I don’t want a flight voucher, where’s my refund?

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Frustrated customers are demanding that airlines make it easier to claim a refund for flights cancelled owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

But the airlines’ trade body wants the right to give vouchers, not refunds.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled as fleets are grounded and the process of reimbursing people is under strain.

EasyJet has faced particular anger as rebooking is done online but refunds require calling customer services and getting through is almost impossible.

Holly Fitton, writing on Facebook, said: “I have been told to ring you for a refund. I do not want to rebook my flight as it is not possible and fit in with our jobs at this current time.

“I will be getting a refund and the money is needed. I rang 14 times yesterday and was greeted with line busy noise or ‘please ring back’.”

Total number of daily commercial fligths

Another, Robin Parker, wrote: “Since my flights have now been cancelled how am I supposed to get a refund? I don’t want ‘new flights for which I would have to pay the difference’.”

EasyJet told the BBC: “Customers on cancelled flights can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a voucher for the value of their booking online or claim a refund through our contact centre.

“We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.”

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What are my rights?

  • If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines will be struggling to meet that deadline. You can accept, or refuse, vouchers or a rebooking but a voucher will probably be invalid if the airline later goes bust
  • If you decide against going on a future flight, which is not yet cancelled, then there is no right to a refund. Different airlines have different rules over what you can do but many are waiving any charges for changing to a later flight or having a voucher instead. Your travel insurance may, or may not, cover you
  • If you are trying to get home, the airline has a duty to get you back. However, with so many flights cancelled, this has become increasingly difficult. Now, the government has agreed to step in when needed to return those who are stranded
  • If you are stuck in the EU and a UK or EU carrier is not rerouting or helping you, you should be able to come home on any airline you can and bill the original airline for the new ticket. The airline is legally obliged to get you home and they should be rerouting you themselves. If they are failing to do that, they are responsible for the cost of getting you home. But you should not cancel and accept a refund as this ends the airline’s duty of care towards you and you won’t be able to claim anything back. It is best to pay by credit card, for the back-up to claim from your card provider
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