CASSANDRA ACQUAH | LEGAL JARGON WRITER
Large numbers of travellers have been waiting for months to get their money back from airlines after having their flights cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Many have also been offered vouchers instead of their preferred cash refunds.
Under rules regarding European air passengers’ rights, carriers that cancel flights are required to return the fares within a week of cancellation. This issue of delayed refunds caused the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority to send warning letters to 30 airlines in July.
Consumer group Which? made a report of more than 14,000 refund complaints, with passengers being denied an average of £446 in refunds. It was also stated that these passengers have collectively spent a total of 52,000 hours chasing airlines for their money.
Nearly half the complaints were from Ryanair passengers whose flights had been cancelled as a result of the pandemic when countries went into national lockdown. The second and third most complained about airlines were Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic.
Some carriers such as Jet2 have been complimented on how prompt their refunds have been whilst others stressed that the sheer amount of processing being done provides explanation for the delays.
A spokesperson for Ryanair mentioned “the fact that we have fewer staff available due to social-distancing measures” as a reason why processing cash refunds is taking longer. A fellow spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic stated that the airline is “making every effort to reduce this timeframe wherever possible in these extraordinary circumstances.”
It will be interesting to see how different airlines meet their customers’ needs in the coming months and years.
How airlines deal with their passengers and refunds could potentially have an impact on their future business and how comfortable both new and existing customers feel to use their services.
In terms of the rules regarding European air passengers’ rights, consider whether there are any implications for these airlines taking longer than a week to refund the passengers?
Will there be any changes in clauses regarding refunds from airlines after the unforeseeable impact the pandemic had on the industry?
Cassandra is an aspiring solicitor with interests in retail and media, as well as the steps being taken to increase diversity at all levels within the legal sector.
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