The Government’s key points on refunds for cancelled holidays and flights are clear, according to Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.
Consumers are entitled to a full cash refund and airline companies or agents acting on their behalf must ensure this happens. While incentives, such as vouchers, can be offered, the customer has total right of refusal and must receive a full cash refund if requested. It must be clear to consumers that they do not have to accept vouchers if offered and travel companies should make the process of refunding as simple as possible. These are challenging times for everyone, airlines and their agents should be doing what they can to ease the stress of their customers who will be out hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds out of pocket.
Minister for Transport, Kelly Tolhurst MP, wrote to MPs outlining the following guidance for consumers rights during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
- Consumer rights in the event of flight cancellations or delays are set out in Regulation EC 261/2004, and the Civil Aviation (Denied Boarding, Compensation and Assistance) Regulations 2005, which are enforced by the CAA. A link to the CAA’s guidance for airlines is included in the Annex.
- We are open to airlines offering incentives to passengers to fly at a later date (for example, through the use of vouchers), but Government remains clear that as set out Regulation EC 261/2004, the consumer continues to retain their right to a full cash refund if they do not wish to accept a voucher.
- The CAA is taking a proportionate approach to enforcement by focusing its resources on ensuring that it is not unduly difficult for consumers to choose a cash refund if that is what they wish, and is cognisant of the challenging operating conditions that airlines are currently facing. Airlines are expected to continue to act in a way which best serves the interests of their customers.
“I’ve been contacted by many of my Stockton North constituents telling me they’ve been refused refunds. I welcome the government providing clarity on this issue and it is now time for airlines or agents acting on their behalf to act. They must conform to the law and give customers their refunds.”
“It is appalling that some travel companies are pressuring consumers to accept vouchers in place of a cash refund – especially when there’s no way of knowing if these vouchers will be usable once we’re on the other side of this pandemic.”
“The Government has been clear, travel companies must serve the best interests of their customers. If a customer requests a refund, it must be provided. No ifs or buts.”