In the past, getting a refund for a flight was relatively easy; a few clicks on the website or one call, and that was it.
Due to the coronavirus, the process has become a lot more difficult in the present days, and many people are uncertain whether or not they will be able to get refunds. If we dig into numbers, we can see that Amadeus, the software used for airline reservations, has handled over 2.5 million air ticket cancellations and changes per day. Their revenues have stopped, which is why airlines try to hold the cash for as long as possible, and their alternative is voucher offers. If you have booked a flight and it was cancelled, and you are wondering if you can get a refund, this is the information you need to know.
Check to see if you are eligible for a refund
First and foremost, never forget the basic rule in the airline cancellation practice: if the airline makes any change, you have a right to a refund. If, however, you are the one making the change before they cancel the flight, then you are not due a refund. With this on your mind, you can now focus on checking if we are entitled to a refund. You are eligible for a refund if your flight was delayed for over 5 hours and you don’t want to use the flight anymore.
Another option is if your airline’s flight was cancelled less than 14 days prior to departure, and the alternative flight option doesn’t help your original travel plans. The third scenario is if you have been denied boarding and don’t want to use the alternative flight offered. This is according to EC 261 regulation.
Would you accept a voucher?
In the previously mentioned scenarios, airlines are likely to suggest you a voucher instead of a refund. Trying to save their existence, airlines have decided to offer travel vouchers or miles to their travellers after they cancelled their flights due to coronavirus. The voucher will almost guarantee that the airline company will provide you with the services that you’ve paid for in the future, based on your travel plans. That is if the airline doesn’t go bankrupt in the meantime.
Some companies even offer discounts and bonuses to attract customers to reschedule the flight instead of demanding a refund. You should think twice before accepting it. Predominantly, a voucher can only be used with one airline, meaning that you cannot transfer it to another if your airline goes bankrupt. Even if your airline doesn’t provide a refund alternative, this doesn’t mean that refund is not a possibility. But if you choose a voucher, you are stuck with it until you use it.
Why are airlines being difficult?
The reason is simple, just like every other business, airlines hate losing money naturally and are trying to avoid going bankrupt. The airline business is very volatile, with enormous costs that come with a lot of unpredictability. Take 2019 as an example; 23 airlines went bankrupt, including the oldest and well-known package operator Thomas Cook. All this happened before the coronavirus pandemic. Nowadays, with most airlines cancelling over 75% of their flights, it is even more uncertain which companies will survive, and they see their salvation in vouchers. By giving vouchers to their customers, airline companies keep their money to pay their huge expenditures. This is why they try to make the voucher options as attractive as possible by offering discounts and bonuses.
What is needed for a refund?
Although we have mentioned this, it is essential to know that you shouldn’t be the one to cancel, but the airline. Keep an eye on flight changes and cancellations sent via email and on the airline’s website. Once they cancel, you should contact the airline. There is a high possibility they will offer you a voucher, but if you are not interested and don’t think it will suit your future travel plans, ask directly for a refund. To request a refund for your flight, you will need your flight number, booking number (or PNR), travel dates, and the passengers’ names for which a refund is requested. Some airlines could ask for the payment method that was used for the ticket purchase. Once all the information has been given, you will have to wait for it to be processed, and you have to consider that refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19 can take a long time before it gets processed.
It can sound very complicated to go through the whole process of refund in these times. In the end, this is in the airlines’ interest, and vouchers are made as much more effortless and appealing options. We hope that we have helped you get to grips with the whole process and the story behind it. Just be firm, persistent, and you will achieve what you want because it is, after all, your right.
To see if you’re eligible for compensation check out this handy guide, complete with flight checker tools all with claimcompass.eu.