/ Travel & Leisure

Has an airline offered you a voucher instead of a refund?

Refunds are required by law for cancelled flights from EU airports, including the UK. Have you been fobbed off with the offer of a voucher instead?

Now the vast majority of flights to and from the UK have been cancelled, passengers are entitled to refunds if their flight was with an EU carrier or their flight was within the EU.

You don’t have to accept a voucher or a change of date if you don’t want to. This comes directly from the Denied Boarding EU Regulation (Regulation 261/2004 EC).

The regulation states:

If a flight is cancelled, the airline must offer you the option of being reimbursed or rerouted (either on the next available flight or on an agreed date), and must also provide you with meals and telephone calls.

Despite this, we’ve been inundated with reports both on Which? Conversation and social media of airlines offering vouchers instead.


Our advice and other options

We’ve been clear that airlines, such as British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair, must comply with the law and offer the option of a refund.

It’s not right that many customers say they’re struggling to get information on how to get their money back. While the government must consider all options to support the industry throughout this period, consumers cannot be left without money they’ll need during this uncertain situation.

Guide: what to do when a travel company goes bust

We’d advise anyone who’s been outright refused a refund to continue pressing their airline on this point, while Which? will continue to lobby on their behalf.

If your flight has been cancelled and you paid with a credit or debit card, you could also consider contacting your bank and asking if you’re able to claim the money back.

For credit cards, this can be done with a Section 75 claim if the total cost of your tickets was more than £100. However, we have found that this only tends to work if you’ve been outright refused a refund.

If the cost was less than £100 or you paid on a debit card, you can claim under the chargeback procedure for flights and cancelled holidays by the provider.

Have you been offered a voucher instead of a refund for a cancelled flight? Let us know in the comments so we can continue to make the case for reimbursements on behalf of everyone.

If your flight was cancelled due to the pandemic, what compensation did your airline offer you?
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What's the main reason you don't want a voucher or travel credit?
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Minhaz Pradhan says:
2 April 2020

I flew with Emirates from London to Dhaka Bangladesh (via Dubai) on the 11th March. My return from Dhaka to London on the 28th March was cancelled by the airline and they are now only offering me travel vouchers.

Am I entitled to a cash refund?

Minhaz Pradhan says:
3 April 2020

Thanks for your reply.

I guess alternatively, I could just claim the cash refund via my credit card company?

Minhaz – You could claim under s.75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Each credit card issuer appears to have its own policy with regard to refunds in these circumstances.

Minhaz, contrary to the responses above, EU261 does apply so you are entitled to a refund. Your rlight was to depart from an EU airport or on an EU airline. The UK is still part of the EU for the purposes of EU261.

I am puzzled by your saying, George, that the EU regulation does not apply to a flight to outside of the EU, on a non EU carrier. In the Interpretive Guidelines on EU passenger rights, regulations, in context of the developing situation, with corovid, March 18 , 2020, , it says that where a return flight is part of the same booking, as opposed to separate booking, the EU regulations on refunds do apply.

Margaret – The critical point in this case is that your flights were out from and return to airports located within the EU so they are covered by the refund regulation.

Steven says:
2 April 2020

Exact same issue with KLM. They have cancelled the flight and despite making it absolutely clear that I wanted a cash refund rather than a voucher or rebooking they continue to just offer either of these two options.

Philip Clark says:
2 April 2020

I was due to travel to Madrid with Easyjet on 07/04 but Madrid went into lockdown very early on so I knew it was unlikely but waited to see what happened. Got an email on 27/03 to say my flight to Madrid had been cancelled and they were offering a voucher or change of flight. I’ve heard nothing about the return leg yet. I used the online contact form to say I wanted a refund as I knew it was my right but heard nothing back, tried ringing them but couldn’t get through.

An Easyjet flight to Prague on April 28th returning on May 6th. Cost with bags £118.21 paid by credit card.

Easyjet have offered me the chance to switch my flight value as a credt to anywhere until February 2021, without any change fee being levied – big deal! This offer is unacceptable to me. If they had given me an 18 month window I would have accepted it. As a result I will be pushing for a refund once the planned departure date on April 28th passes. They have already taken £120 deposit from me for a package holiday booked for Mallorca planned for May 16th. I did not want to pass the payment date when over £1000 would have been due, as it is unlikely that it would be safe in May from CV-19 or that there would be a flight to travel to the Balearics then anyway. It was too much of a gamble to be forced to pay the full amount and then lose it if it was my own decision to cancel in early May. I also lost around £90 with Do you Spain for a 10 day car hire booking – terms and conditions state as this was a special deal there would be no refund on cancellation.

I ask the question about EasyJet to the Which community – as anyone had a better deal than mine?

I know a friend who was flying to Prague from Ireland via Aer Lingus on the same day as me to meet up. My friends flight was cancelled and Aer Lingus have offered him far better terms – a 5 year flight credit with a 10% uplift on his paid fare. All credit to Aer Lingus. I hope Easyjet read this and realise that their offer is very stingy and mean and is totally unacceptable…

It’s understandable that you didn’t want to risk paying out £1,000 when you weren’t sure if you’d get a refund when the holiday would almost certainly be cancelled. I might be writing about these issues for Which? Travel – so might be in touch to ask for more details if you’re happy to help.

You will be entitled to a full refund for your April 28 flight (unless the law changes) but you’ll have to wait until easyJet officially cancel the flight before you can claim it. They’re only allowing people to claim by phone and only officially cancelling flights a couple of weeks before they’re due to fly – let’s hope it’s easier to get through on the phone then.

Booked and paid a deposit for a holiday with love holidays. Paid balance in full on first of two installments. Was shocked when they debited my account on date of second installment the sum of £130. Was told by Love holidays the whole sum would be a voucher. They’ve done this to other customers too.

Wayne says:
2 April 2020

We will be going bring you’re speedos

Nick says:
2 April 2020

Given that airlines are refusing to do this even though it is against the law, what are the options? Class action?

We’ve got some advice here: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/03/airlines-failing-to-refund-cancelled-flights/


Class actions are an American thing – I’m not sure if there’s anything similar in the UK.

I have booked a one- way flight with Easy Jet for July to Kos but returning from Rhodes mid August if the JULY flight is cancelled and I can’t go will I get a refund for the one way flight from Rhodes back to England if flights have resumed in between these dates even if I haven’t gone in the first place.

Geoffrey – If the July flight to Kos is cancelled you should get a refund [see the Intro to this Conversation] and I believe that will also include a refund for the return leg which is obviously linked to the outbound leg, but since your holiday is not a package holiday that might not be the case. I hope Which? can clarify this for you.

Andrew Mckinlay says:
2 April 2020

Hi there, situation gets complicated when (like us) you’ve booked a return flight with BA to Canada before the virus hit but after Canada barred non-residents from entering the country. Because Canada is still allowing its residents to go there, as well as other qualifying travellers who are able to self-isolate for 14 days, BA is still taking bookings for the flight we booked but won’t cancel our booking despite knowing we can’t travel! It’s all about keeping cash in its coffers, rather than doing the right thing and offering customers all the options they should, i.e. include the refund choice. In the end, we’ve requested a voucher as we travel to Canada every year but there’s still a risk BA could go bust before we try to redeem our voucher – just seen BA have furloughed bulk of their workforce until end of May so how can they still offer flights to Canada when they’ll have no-one to service their business?

Irene McCafferty says:
2 April 2020

We had flights booked to London beginning May 2020. British Airways offered us travel vouchers which we have ignored as we have other flights booked to Italy via British Airways in September and have no requirement for 12 months vouchers. They have now changed our 8.35 flights to 7.40 hrs stating if we are not happy with this we can go on to manage my booking to change. But there is no option, to change. We want a refund on these flights what are our rights.

Irene McCafferty says:
2 April 2020

In addition to the BA Flights booked early May 2020 now being changed from 8.35 to 7.40 hrs they have made the same flight number. BA Policy states under cancelled flights that you can be rebooked onto another flight or if you no longer wish to travel you can cancel and get a refund to the original form of payment. However, it would appear they are now changing the flight time but keeping the same flight number.

Erica O says:
3 April 2020

Booked a flight with @British_Airways to Dubai on the 20th of March the flight was cancelled on the 17th of March. They are forcing me to take a voucher and I am refusing as the law states I am entitled to a full refund.

Alison Denmark says:
3 April 2020

I was due to fly with TUI tomorrow and have been unable to contact them as understandably they are very busy. I understand that I will have two options to either amend my holiday arrangements or accept a full refund. As I will do the latter, are TUI obliged by law to refund the credit card I booked with or, as I have since paid the balance, can I request they reimburse another account? Also, if they do not contact me under after the date I was due to travel, will this affect my rights in any way?

Hi my virgin airlines has cancelled my flight to india which was to depart today. They are refusing a refund and are only offering to change dates. Can they do this?

hello Sukhvinder, no – as an EU airline they are obliged to refund you if that’s what you’d prefer. There’s some advice here:



Bob says:
3 April 2020

I have the same situation but with rail bookings. Eurostar are only offering vouchers. Can I insist on a refund instead?

Yes, I had Eurostar tickets booked to Paris in March. I waited until the date of travel, when our train was cancelled, and then requested a refund. Eurostar took 10 days to reply, but eventually refunded my Amex card.

The Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Act 1943 applies to scenarios such as this where you can’t use EU261. As the year suggests, it was enacted during another global emergency when contracts were frustrated on a widepsread basis.

Katharine says:
3 April 2020

We’re four individuals booked together on a April BA flight to Spain for a holiday. Flight is cancelled. A voucher Refund requires us to travel together again. We want our money back as we might not be able to rearrange the holiday. There seems no way to get our money back as the website doesn’t offer it and you can’t talk to anyone on the phone.

Catherine Poile says:
4 April 2020

Our family , seven in number, were travelling to Cyprus for a family wedding on 6th April, returning on 11th April. This needless to say has been cancelled and will be rescheduled later in the year in the UK.

We cannot get through to Easyjet customer services and are just going around in circles, constantly being referred online and by telephone to vouchers or rescheduling with no option presented for claiming a refund. Our other daughter, who was travelling with Wizzair has had a full refund.

Paul M says:
4 April 2020

My Easyjet flight on 8 April was cancelled by the airline on 17th March. I was offered a full refund which I took but this has not yet come through to my credit card. It was supposed to take ‘up to 7 days’. Are refunds taking longer because of the volume? I don’t really want to try to call them unless I have no other option

Lynn Murphy says:
4 April 2020

Flights booked through a flight travel agent with Etihad, London to Cochin and then return.
Flights cancelled by Etihad and told by them we must claim via booking agent,
Booking agent insists that only voucher will be issued by Etihad to them and then to us for a flight to be taken before April 2021.
Any suggestions as it if or how it may be possible to obtain a refund instead of vouchers?

Lynn – There could be two reasons why the refund regulations do not apply – (a) Your trip is not a package holiday where both travel and accommodation are provided in a single transaction, and/or (b)
Etihad is not an EU airline so it is not bound by the refund rights under the package travel regulations.

Yes, because your flight was departing from an EU airport (and EU legislation continues to apply to the UK), your are entitled to a refund under EU261.

I’ve read your advice above with interest, I am due to fly with Jet2 in June and was interested in their cancellation policy, they have posted on their q&a page that due to the exceptional nature of the covid19 situation they will not be reimbursing any cancelled flights, surely this is against the legislation you have quoted above. As the seats were less than £100 each I’m assuming we won’t be covered under regulations 75.

Ignore the above I was getting confused over the difference with compensation and refunds, obviously not the same thing.

Sean Smith says:
5 April 2020

I have flight booked to Canada at the end of May 2020. The flight I have booked was with Virgin but under a code share with West Jet. If the flight is cancelled or UK passport holders are not allowed to travel there, will I be covered by EU law as my booking was with Virgin or does this not apply as I was travelling on a non EU carrier ?