Outrigger Hotels and Resorts

Published on Friday, October 1, 2021

Airlines agree to issue Covid cancellation refunds

A group of 16 major airlines have pledged to issue refunds to passengers for flight cancellations within seven days, as required under EU law.

The undertaking came after the Commission had informed the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) enforcement authorities in late 2020 to take action.

It includes British Airways, Easyjet, Ryanair and Wizz Air, as well as Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM, and Lufthansa.

The European Commission said the 16 airlines were the ones with the most consumer complaints.

 "In the early phase of the pandemic, some airlines pushed vouchers on passengers. They were acting against EU consumer protection rules. That was unacceptable," Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said.

 "I call on authorities to ensure that the remaining airlines also offer a money refund for such vouchers," he said.

The enforcement action doesn't cover bookings as part of a package holiday.

The airlines must also be more transparent about passenger rights relating to flight cancellations.

Passengers may be given vouchers only if they specifically request them.

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  • It's a start, but needs to go further

    Speaking about the scheduled carriers rather than the no frills airlines: "... pledged to issue refunds to passengers for flight cancellations" ... does not really make a lot of difference - for actual flight cancellations we can obtain refunds through BSP. The problem is when the flight goes ahead but the destination is on a red list, has borders closed to UK travellers, or has an FCO advisory against travel. On a handful of airlines (mostly Middle Eastern ones) the customer and operator is still protected as they have more robust refund policies, but not on the likes of BA or Virgin. And then of course there is this: "The enforcement action doesn't cover bookings as part of a package holiday" Which pretty much throws tour operators under the bus (who of course are required to give refunds under the package travel regs).

    By Andrew McLeish, Friday, October 1, 2021

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