/ 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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I had return flights to Malta booked and Air Malta cancelled the flight due to the corona crisis. They contacted me advising that as I’d booked through Expedia I would need to arrange the refund through them. My travel companions who booked direct with Air Malta received the offer of vouchers or reimbursement and took the cash. I contacted Expedia, who wouldn’t talk because my flight was over ten days away. Then I received email saying it was in hand but might take a while due to the volume of work Expedia was dealing with. Today I receive and email which I don’t really understand – it says I’m getting Air Malta vouchers but doesn’t say how or when. I then chatted online with an Expedia agent and was told it’s nothing to do with them now and that I need to claim my voucher through Air Malta. When I said that customers who booked direct were getting reimbursed the agent said they’d call Air Malta to check – when she returned to the chat she said that Air Malta doesn’t give anyone reimbursement, just vouchers, and that the corona virus situation negates their usual obligations. So I go back to Air Malta as advised by Expedia and there is a page to claim for a cancelled flight offering a) book trip now, b) take a non-refundable voucher +30% value of original valid 12 months, c) refundable voucher valid 12 months, no mention of any admin fees for the refund but I’m sure there’ll be one hidden in the small print. I now feel cornered and don’t see a way out. I’m emailing them both together to see if that gets me anywhere. Any advice gladly received.

Andrew – I think you should follow the advice given in the Introduction to this Conversation and in the links included.

Sean says:
8 May 2020

I booked through Lastminute.com with British Airways (but on American Airlines flights) – all cancelled by British Airways. Lastminute eventually gave me 3 “refund” options, 2 of which are basically vouchers (confirmed to them a number of times via email I don’t want vouchers), the 3rd option is a cash refund or vouchers depending on airline policy – they can’t say what I’ll get. There is no option that simply says “full cash refund” so I’m not willing to accept any of the 3 options because it’s all too vague. So someone, 6 weeks later, has still got MY money and can’t tell me if I’ll definitely get it back! £2k! I know it’s unprecedented but someone needs to get a grip and sort this out, I haven’t agreed to being a creditor for the travel industry. What a mess.

Andy house says:
9 May 2020

I was offered vouchers by BA for are cancelled flIght I took them as I thought I had no choice and BA did not offer a refund after reading up on this can I go back and say I actually want a refund I paid with a debit card

Sarah Davison says:
25 May 2020

I did the same Andy but BA are now refusing to issue a refund because they’ve generated vouchers, although I don’t understand why it is more complicated to cancel some digit vouchers than an entire flight. Our flights were for Mauritius, which BA flies to from it’s Gatwick hub and I’m now concerned, on recent new reports, they may abandon that hub. I think their flight schedule and destinations are too risky to expect customers to accept vouchers. I’m attempting a section 75 claim via Barclaycard since they have now refused a cash refund in writing.

Peter Duckitt says:
11 May 2020

We had a holiday to Crete booked with TUI including TUI flights.
We’ve been offered a voucher or refund but told we need to phone them to get a refund. It has proved impossible to get through by phone.

Em says:
11 May 2020

There are so many Conversations about flight cancellations and refunds on Which? Hopefully, this is a good place to post:

Extracts from Regulation (EC) No 261/2004

Article 14

Obligation to inform passengers of their rights

2. An operating air carrier denying boarding or cancelling a flight shall provide each passenger affected with a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with this Regulation. It shall also provide each passenger affected by a delay of at least two hours with an equivalent notice. The contact details of the national designated body referred to in Article 16 [CAA in UK] shall also be given to the passenger in written form.

Article 15

Exclusion of waiver

1. Obligations vis-à-vis passengers pursuant to this Regulation may not be limited or waived, notably by a derogation or restrictive clause in the contract of carriage.

2. If, nevertheless, such a derogation or restrictive clause is applied in respect of a passenger, or if the passenger is not correctly informed of his rights and for that reason has accepted compensation which is inferior to that provided for in this Regulation, the passenger shall still be entitled to take the necessary proceedings before the competent courts or bodies in order to obtain additional compensation.

In other words, the airline must inform you of your rights in respect of flight cancellation IN WRITING. If you have not had such a notification, then ask for one before accepting any form of refund or alteration.

Secondly, as a result of Article 15, you cannot sign away your rights under this EU Regulation, either through agreement by accepting a less form of compensation (e.g. a flight voucher), or by omission because the airline forgot to tell you about your right to a cash refund.

Em says:
11 May 2020

Further to the above, cynical me is wondering if the reason why so many airlines are pushing vouchers convertible to cash next year, is because the UK will have finally broken its relationship with the EU (if they haven’t already).

It might then prove very difficult to enforce Article 15/2. Who will be “the competent courts or bodies” in twelve months?

Gemma Carr says:
12 May 2020

I had flights to paris booked through Expedia and also accommodation through them on the 10th April – 15th April, I cancelled my accommodation and got my money back in around 3-5 weeks but Expedia have NOT offered me a cash refund and instead have issued me a travel voucher which I do not want to use if this is how the company treats their customers. I also would like a cash refund as I need the money I spent on flights. EXPEDIA GIVE US CASH REFUNDS

My ticket is for travel on 20th May. TAP, LHR to Portugal. Flight not cancelled. Airline has only offered a voucher which must be used by December this year. This is useless for me. How do I improve this offer, preferably with a cash refund.

I feel I am piggy in the middle. Flight to Livingstone with Kenya Airways (12 May). Cancelled. Offered voucher. Don’t want voucher; want refund. Opodo say I must take this up with Kenya Airlines. Kenya Airlines say I must take it up with booking agent, Opodo. Where do I go next ?

My British Airways flight was cancelled in march. They have forced me to take a voucher with a 12 month expiry date on it, WHICH I DO NOT WANT! Called BA to get a refund and get fobbed off with an answer machine, apologising for the inconvenience and then it hangs up! Just call BA on 0800 727 800, press 1 for refunds and see what happens! I have also contacted my credit card company disputing section 75 of the consumers credit act, and they say they can’t dispute it because BA have offered an alternative in the form of a voucher. Even credit card companies refuse to deal with the situation! BA have completely lost their brand loyalty. If they gave me my full refund which they say I’m entitled to, or a voucher with NO EXPIRY date on it i would be happy to fly with them again, but as it stands right now, they’ve lost their entire integrity without a care in the world about their customers or employees for that matter! The BA boss’s seem to gloat about having BILLIONS in the bank, and yet they are BLATANTLY REFUSING to give cash refunds. Where’s the true loyalty gone?! Plus BA and other airlines are BREAKING THE LAW!

S D says:
26 May 2020

Has anyone tried to get their money back through the small claims court? I am considering it. It should be an easy win, no?

Em says:
26 May 2020

In normal times, maybe. But you could be waiting a long time, particularly if the Government decide to step in and offer financial support, or the airline enters into some form of administration arrangement.

I would be inclined to wait and see. You have six years to bring legal proceedings. Why the rush? You can’t spend the money on another holiday at the moment, so best to sit tight IMHO.

21 May 2020

I am 11 weeks pregnant and do not want a travel voucher to replace my 1 week holiday that was for 4th to 12th june which easyjet have now cancelled. I would not fly being further than 4months pregnant and I would certainly not take child under 2 years old on holiday abroad. So at this time considering the economy also I want my money back. I have my holiday booked through LoveHolidays who have cancelled my final payment due on 21st June. I will aim to claim back bia my bank and debit card for goods and services not received. My flight for 4th June only showed up as cancelled this evening so I will try LoveHolidays first but I know that have only been offering people vouchers aswell. This full thing is a shambles but hopefully it will lead to better policy for future circumstances like this.

Sid says:
22 May 2020

I have already accepted vouchers for Iberia, Norwegian and Copa, at the time I was panicked about the flights and though I may get nothing. The websites mention a refund, but when you proceed to the online form it is only for a voucher. I thought this simply meant they were not giving any refunds. Any way now I know better, is there any way/possibility that I could get a refund on the voucher if I don’t want to use it?

I called Iberia and the person just said, if you have received the voucher you can’t get a refund, but I have not used the voucher, presumably they could just cancel the voucher too.

Sue Price says:
23 May 2020

I had a holiday booked with Jet2 to Kefalonia on 3rd June. They offered a voucher or a refund, and I chose the latter. My credit card has already been credited with the refund. I shall certainly use Jet2 again.

S Thomson says:
27 May 2020

We had flights booked with KLM in March that were cancelled because of the lockdown. KLM are outright refusing to give a refund. Here’s a copy of my conversation with them:

We can see that your booking is not eligible for a refund but vouchers have been issued. The vouchers will become refundable after one year if they have not been used. This information was also sent to [edited]. The vouchers will be valid until the 31th of December 2021.
Yesterday, 2:04 PM
But under EU law I’m entitled to a refund in cash as the flights were cancelled. I would like a cash refund.
Yesterday, 2:09 PM
We understand, however, since your flight was cancelled before 15MAY, you are eligible for a travel voucher as a refund.

The current and unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has caused never seen situations for airlines and their customers. Since the beginning of this crisis, Air France and KLM have issued refundable vouchers as a commercial response to massive flight cancellations. These vouchers can be reimbursed after 12 months if they have not been (fully) used.

Recent developments on the global sanitary situation and the gradual lifting of quarantine measures allow us more clarity the evolution of our flight schedule for the near future. Therefore, Air France and KLM have decided to adjust their refund policy for flight cancellations taking place on the 15th of May and after. Concerned customers will be offered the choice of a voucher or a cash refund. However, in view of the magnitude of this crisis and the number of cancellations, it may take longer to process these transactions. We appreciate for your understanding in this matter.

Air France and KLM also enhance the attractiveness of the vouchers, issued before or after the 15th May by adding a bonus to the total value of the initial ticket (bonus to be finalized but possibly in the range of 15%). This extra value can be used for a new booking but will not be included in the cash payout after 12 months if no new booking has been made.

Our teams are working on the technical implementation of the enhancement of these vouchers. Further details will be communicated in the coming days.
Yesterday, 3:18 PM
But this isn’t good enough. Whether or not your policy is not to give cash refunds for flights before the 15th May, that doesn’t change the law. The law says that if you cancel the flight, which you did, then I am entitled to a cash refund. I would like a cash refund.
8:34 AM
We understand where your coming from. However, as much as we ant to inform you otherwise, we are unable to do so.
8:37 AM
But I don’t understand. What you as a company are doing is illegal, isn’t it?
8:50 AM
We do apologize for the inconvenience that this might have caused you.
Unfortunately we cannot inform you differently.

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personal contact information. Please don’t post personal contact details–either your own or others–as this is against the Community guidelines]

Matt H says:
28 May 2020

We are in exactly the same position with KLM, we have a refund request in after dealing with their customer services reps for weeks, our flights where cancelled on the 3rd March. We processed the request on the 13th may after not taking the voucher option and insisting for over a month that vouchers did not go far enough and under EU law we are allowed to request a refund.

My personal opinion is that what KLM are currently doing is disgraceful. effectively using customer money to keep themselves operational when they should be processing refunds and requesting support through loans and government support.

I have flown with them for years, loyalty seems to mean nothing and i for one certainly would never fly with them again. If i don’t get my refund i hope they go bust and the people that broke the EU laws are held accountable! (unlikely)

What is the position please with airline T&C’s interfacing with the legislation regarding cancelled flights. My understanding is that under legislation consumers are entitled to cash refund where the airline cancels the flight. Credit card companies are also on the hook jointly. They both push back referring to the airlines T&C’s. I assume that it’s not possible to contract out of the legislation so T&C’s are irrelevant. Even if it was possible to contract out, the airline would have to bring it to the consumers reasonable attention and not bury it in T&C’s.

Em says:
29 May 2020

Please scroll up this page to see Extracts from Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 that I posted on 11 May.

In summary:

In other words, the airline must inform you of your rights in respect of flight cancellation IN WRITING. If you have not had such a notification, then ask for one before accepting any form of refund or alteration.

Secondly, as a result of Article 15, you cannot sign away your rights under this EU Regulation, either through agreement by accepting a less form of compensation (e.g. a flight voucher), or by omission because the airline forgot to tell you about your right to a cash refund.

The airline (assuming they are covered by the regulation) cannot contract out of their obligations, nor can the consumer waive their rights. You are correct in your assumption that T&Cs are irrelevant.

Mrs J & Mr W. Whittington says:
28 May 2020

Please help my husband and I are 77yrs 80yrs respectively we had bought tickets on BA to fly to Cyprus in May on my iPad. When I tried to contact them for a refund which took me hours and a couple of days. In the end I got only a voucher on offer, they sent the voucher to my iPad a few day later. After discussing our health and age with our family and the uncertainty of the airline flying again any time soon. I rang BA twice more saying we will probably never get to use the voucher. As it will be impossible to guarantee we will be fit to travel . The answer was both times you have have the voucher deal with it you will not be able to get a refund. They did offer £ 47 airport taxes back, I refused completely and and said I will take the matter further. Please help

Hi there,
If your flight to Cyprus has been cancelled by the airline, you’re entitled to a full refund, and should ask for one under the Denied Boarding EU Regulation (Regulation 261/2004 EC).

However, if the flight hasn’t been cancelled (regardless of the government’s advice not to travel) unfortunately all you can do at the moment is accept BAs offer of flight credits. If you have travel insurance for the trip, you could always try claiming your money back that route too if you’re covered for unexpected circumstances. Hope that helps.

I had a package booked for two of my employees to go to the US to work on a UK warship booked through an agent who booked it with Jetset Flights cancelled After much chasing ( Jetset will not talk to you ) I received a part refund for the hotel and car hire I am still owed just over £5300.00 they then sent me a Refund Credit Note which I had already told them I did not want. It says that any rebooking must be with the original airline and the original employees oh and if I want my money wait until end January 2021. What can I do. Thanks Adrian Etheridge

Purple says:
30 May 2020

We had tickets booked through Air France with code share to KLM from Saudi Arabia , through Europe to the UK and back to SA.
Airline cancelled the flights, we were never offered a refund and were forced to have a voucher. Zero communication.
We have tried COUNTLESS times to challenge the airlines via Facebook, FB Messenger, Telephone, their Websites, Twitter and literally HUNDREDS of emails to over 50 differing email addresses (of which 98+ never respond).
The only reply we ever get is go to ‘such and such’ link to claim a refund – which of course then gets declined.
We have consistently requested WHERE in the legislation they have a right to REFUSE TO REFUND but the question is consistently ignored.
We have done this circuit for two months now, going around and around with no changes, just a bunch of fobbing off by the airline and ‘we will not respond to further communication with you’.
We are just appalled at the way this is being handled and that the EU are allowing the Governments to continue to accept this blatant disregard for the Legislation.
If the airlines ignore these laws, what about the Legislation around aircraft maintenance, are they taking shortcuts around safety too?
We have spent hundreds of hours trying to get our money back, just abhorrent behaviour. The damage done to their reputation will see many customers turn their back on the airlines.

Philip Kaye says:
31 May 2020

I have been offered to rebook flights with additional $400 credit with Etihad, but even with the credit, all the new flights I might want to book work out much more expensive then the original flights. I am sure airlines are ramping up their future prices to claw back money from all those they have offered rebookings to. I understand they are in crisis and are trying to maximise cashflow, but my own income has also taken a hit and I dont deel like paying a lot more for the flights. I would rather have my money back.

Dave Beattie says:
31 May 2020

BA have given me a voucher for the value of the flights that were cancelled. It was not clear at the time that this would preclude eventually getting a refund. Since two of the party of four are in a Covid-19 high risk category, it is unlikely that we will fly again before this is completely over. For this reason I have asked for a refund and then been refused. I have raised a complaint to BA Customer Services, who have promised to get back to me as soon as they can (whatever that means). They have told me that the voucher will be valid for two years, but this is of little consolation. It is also for the flight value, not the flights, so if the cost of flying doubles, I will end up having to pay the extra or throw away the voucher.