Airlines have more or less shut down for ordinary passenger travel…. Where a flight is cancelled, the legal position is clear, the airline must refund within seven working days. Period.
Clients, both corporate and private, have started to inquire of us about air ticket refunds. The issue hit the Radio 4 Today programme. When these clients contacted Ryanair, they tell us, they were offered full refunds. Indeed, they praised Ryanair for putting up a website to facilitate the claims. Then, suddenly, Ryanair has reversed its position and is instead offering vouchers. The issue has also been reported in the Guardian and the Evening Standard newspapers.
In place of the refund promised initially, clients have been sent an email. The email contains a link advising them how to use Ryanair vouchers to swap for alternative flights over the next year. Why the vouchers are limited to a year is not clear and not explained in the email or the website.
Passengers, the email makes clear, can still request a cash refund. But this “request” will be placed in a holding pattern or, more precisely “in the cash refund queue until the Covid-19 emergency has passed”. Quite what this means is not defined either.
The legal position is quite clear: full refunds must be made by the airline if flights are cancelled. Such refunds are to be provided in seven working days.
Regulators need to get more active here. The relevant regulator is the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA must start instructing airlines to start making refunds, no ifs or buts, and it needs to do this now.
The second legal option is to approach your bank, if payment was made by card, and make what is called a chargeback (usually in the case of a debit card payment but it can be used for credit cards) or section 75 claim request (for credit cards under the Consumer Credit Act).