Plans have been disrupted for many travellers due to the Coronavirus pandemic with the airline companies being particularly hard hit.
Given the uncertainty with lock-downs to varying degrees across most jurisdictions, it seems reasonable for airlines to refund the cost of flights if they can't provide the flight on the agreed date.
Unfortunately, many airlines seem to be hanging on to customers money and offering vouchers or credits for future airline travel at some unknown date.
Airline customers are left out of pocket wondering if the airline companies will survive the crisis to honour these vouchers or credits.
At least one British Airways customer who contacted me this week is in this situation, holding approximately £1200 of British Airways vouchers that he has repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to use to purchase new travel. He has been unsuccessful trying to contact British Airways by phone and is asking what options are available.
After you have made reasonable attempts to recover your money from the airline, my suggested options include:
- contacting your banking provider to reverse the transaction on your credit card (assuming you used a credit card to pay for the travel)
- pursuing a claim via the CEDR which will cost you £25 if you are unsuccessful
- pursuing a claim via the small claims court (which may be difficult or impossible if you live outside the UK)
- finding some professional help with your claim
Professional help is available e.g. there is some excellent advice on the Bott and Co. website including:
- It is specifically EU Regulation 261 laws relating to cancelled flights that are relevant for cancellations relating to Coronavirus. Under this law, you are legally entitled to a refund within seven days equal to the price you paid for your ticket.
- This law applies to flights that would have departed from the EU or arrive in the EU on an EU based airline.
- The United Kingdom is still part of the EU until the end of 2020, so the above criteria apply at a minimum to all EU and UK based airlines.
Update: According to Bott and Co, "EU Regulation 261/2004 was written into UK law at the end of the Brexit transition period, meaning you have exactly the same rights to claim flight compensation as you did when the UK were members of the EU."
Bott and Co. can pursue a claim on your behalf and they have a very high success rate. They charge 25% of the refund amount recovered in successful claims and charge nothing if they are unsuccessful.
I am not affiliated with Bott and Co. but they do seem to be the experts at this.