/ 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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Alastair says:
2 June 2020

BA cancelled my flight offered an alternate or a voucher. Neither was suitable. Requested a refund on the website but clicking that option takes to to a page asking for name and address which then issues vouchers. When you finally get to a human being to request these are cancelled they say they can’t. Con artists. Won’t be using BA again.

Christine says:
3 June 2020

Our flight for June 2020 has just been cancelled.
We would be happy to accept a voucher to book for June 2021.
However Easyjet have brought forward their flight release date to the 2nd July which is only 4 weeks away.
I have tried phoning and emailing to ask if we accepted a voucher would it arrive by the 2nd of July but so far had no luck getting through to them.
If I can’t get an answer I’m just going to ask for a refund!

Neal says:
10 June 2020

I have just been offered vouchers by easyjet , which I would take , however I am uncertain if I would then be covered by my credit card company (which I purchased the tickets on) if easyjet went bust before I got to use the vouchers ?

My flight could still go ahead in July , but I wouldn’t want to go .

So not sure what to do ?

Ian Allen says:
18 June 2020

I applied for a refund from British Airways for my cancelled flights, totaling £830. As many others have found, when applying via the website their system automatically generates a voucher request. This is then issued and BA state that once this has occurred they cannot issue the refund. At the time, there was a footnote in small print about calling their Customer Services to claim a refund, but at the same time BA were also asking customers not to call unless it was urgent about an upcoming flight! They have also stated to me that I “requested” a voucher, which is not the case. Disgraceful behaviour from our supposed National flag carrier.

Emma Jackson says:
18 June 2020

We were due to fly on 27th March. Opodo’s communication has been appalling.
They are now trying to get us to accept a voucher to spend with them and yet say that the airline (Swiss Air) has the money and hasn’t refunded them so they can’t refund us. It doesn’t make sense, if Swiss Air really does have the money.
We have raised a case with their customer services over 2 weeks ago and had no reply. We have also sent them a letter, signed for on delivery, and have had no reply to that either.
I see, with interest above, that unless they outright refuse to give a refund credit card companies are unlikely to allow a section 75 claim which was our next step.
is it just a waiting game – if so, for how long?

Chris Andrews says:
18 June 2020

I am one of the Virgin Holidays customers waiting an excessive time to receive their (agreed) refund. I am owed almost £7k and they will not provide any indication of when this will be paid other than a maximum period of 120 days. Day one for me was April 29th and I don’t see why I should wait possibly until the end of August before getting my own money back!

Hi Chris

I am sorry to read that Virgin Holidays are expecting you to wait a frankly, unreasonable period of time for the refund to be provided.

To move things along, depending on the payment method used to book the holiday, you may wish to contact your bank or credit card provider and request a chargeback be carried out. The chargeback, carried out at the bank/provider’s discretion, would reverse the payment made to Virgin Holidays. Given the administrative burden that Virgin Holidays are facing at this time, it is unlikely that the chargeback will be disputed and so the funds will remain in your account. This may help to reach a swifter resolution of this matter.

Alternatively, if you made payment using a credit card, you could commence a section 75 claim against your credit card provider for the refund. The majority of section 75 claims are being dealt with in four to six weeks which would still be quicker than waiting for an outcome from Virgin Holidays.

For more information on the chargeback process please visit the following Which? information page: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback

I hope the above information is of assistance. Should you require any further legal advice then please do get in contact with Which? Legal to explore your membership options.

This information is provided by Which? Legal. To join call 01174 054 854 or visit Which? Legal to find out more.

Lauren Stacey
Which? Legal – Lawyer FILEx

Richard says:
19 June 2020

I was due to fly the end of May and my flight was cancelled. Easyjet gave me an option of a refund on manage my bookings which I choose back in May, I received an email to say to allow up to 28 days for my request to be processed.
Today I have just received an email from easyjet saying thank you for contacting easyjet and supporting us by selecting a flight voucher for your cancelled flight. What can I do to get my refund.

Cynthia says:
25 June 2020

My flights with easy jet were cancelled in March. I was offered a refund. I managed to get through after it failed to appear. They said it would take 3 months. That expired Tuesday. Waiting for them to answer the phone but if anyone has any ideas on how to get my money back they would be very welcome. I wish they would stop sending me marketing emails … I’m never flying with them again

Aloysius says:
1 July 2020

As with other customers I was only offered a voucher from BA when my flight to Seattle was cancelled on May 3rd. They did not offer a cash refund as an alternative. I have contacted them on several occasions asking for a cash refund instead of the voucher and been told that as I had accepted the voucher I was not eligible for a cash refund. I have pointed out that there was no offer of a cash refund at the time so a voucher was the only option. I have been a customer of theirs for over 30 years and feel very let down and annoyed. Shame on you BA.

Bank repaid me for cancelled flights under the debit card Chargeback scheme.
On 02 / 02 / 2020 I bought September Flights from UK to Canada and return for £1356.28 from the Canadian airline Westjet using my Santander Visa debit card. Westjet subsequently cancelled the flights and informed me that they were holding my money in their ‘travel bank’ (i.e. they were giving me credit). There was no process by which I could accept or reject this. They offer no information on how to get repaid and no way of contacting them over this.
Chargeback is a voluntary scheme run by the banks whereby they will refund debit card purchases if the seller has failed to deliver. They then claim off the seller. I claimed from Santander using Which?’s template, making the points that credit for future travel was not what I purchased, and I may have no use for the credit if those flights are not available in the future or have become more expensive. This situation met Santander’s criteria for a repayment. Another time I would purchase using a credit card so that I have legal protection, but well done Santander!

Ibraheem Alaka says:
5 July 2020

I was offered a rescheduled flight or voucher. Due to covid-19 uncertainties I couldn’t provide a date for a rescheduled flight so I opted for voucher.
I discovered that the voucher’s value is £233 . This voucher cannot get me a return ticket to Lagos, as one-way journeys tend to be more expensive. So within 48 hours of receiving the voucher I contacted KLM to take back the voucher and give me a rescheduled flight.
KLM said they cannot take the voucher back.
KLM is asking me to purchase another ticket where I will use the voucher and pay the balance with extra cash.
So I’m trying to put a claim to their customer service stating EU regulations 261/2004 and that there is no clause which states I can’t return the voucher for rebooking.

Evie Dent says:
6 July 2020

Good afternoon, I bought 2 return tickets from a Travel Agency to fly from London to Sao Paulo and our flight with LATAM has been cancelled due to the Covid-19. We contacted the travel agency which told us that the advisory received from the airline was refund is not possible. Today, we have contacted the airline direct and they told us to accept the voucher and then to apply for a refund through the voucher. Please help as we are very confused. Thank you very much

Sunny says:
9 July 2020

I’m not sure what my rights are and would welcome advice. I paid a deposit to BA holidays. About 10 days prior to the deadline for paying the remainder BA e mailed an application for a voucher. I delayed completing this for about a week and then did so on line. The next day, oddly timed at at 0450 hours, I received an e mail informing me that I had been successful in my application for a voucher but the only proof of the voucher they would give was that particular e mail message. The following day I received another e mail notifying me that the flights were cancelled. I immediately requested that my deposit be refunded rather than accepting the voucher. I received 3 denials after 3 further requests by me explaining my unhappiness with their decision especially given the proximity of events. The final message from BA informed me that their decision is final and because they were busy with other customers they would not be answering future e mails from me unless it was about a different matter. Do I have any rights to insist on a refund rather than accept the voucher?

George Honeyman says:
15 July 2020

It’s my understanding that as the flight has been cancelled, you are entitled to a refund in the same form as you paid. Have you received the compensation voucher yet? This may affect your rights, however it’s worth checking with the Civil Aviation Authority, you can contact them through their website and they’ll fight your case if it is considered valid by current standards. Which it certainly should be.

Sarah says:
14 July 2020

My daughter booked connecting flights through Easyjet to Menorca via Basel and return. The first leg of this journey has just been cancelled. There was no option to reschedule, just apply for a voucher. It was assumed that once we had the voucher we could use it to reschedule, but the voucher can’t be redeemed for 28 days. Meanwhile, we have a useless flight from Basel to Menorca despite the fact that we paid a mandatory additional fee for Dohop. I cannot yet get through to Easyjet on the telephone.

George Honeyman says:
15 July 2020

We are due to fly in October with Aer Lingus for a wedding in the US, since cancelled, due to COVID-19. We booked directly with the airline, including travel insurance, well before the outbreak. Despite this, we have only a slim hope of getting a refund. Aer Lingus are actively running flights that by all reasonable consideration should be cancelled, coined as ‘ghost flights’ by media. It’s evident this is to avoid legal obligations to refund their c̶u̶s̶t̶o̶m̶e̶r̶s victims.

Therefore, our only option is to wait until our flights departure and hope the government are:

a) Still advising against non-essential travel to the US, and/or
b) Continue to order UK travelers to quarantine upon return from the US.

Outside of contracting COVID-19, only these two factors would allow us to claim a refund via travel insurance, through which we would still lose >£100.

Airlines should be held to the same standards as other consumer led industries. Notably, train operators within the rail industry were compelled to offer refunds for all future tickets purchased before the outbreak, by this standard we would have received a hassle free refund totaling £1000. Instead, we and thousands of others stand to lose potentially life-changing amounts, in a time of crisis, to corrupt practices. Consumer rights have a long way to go.

LINDSEY Blenkinsop says:
15 July 2020

I originally opted to take a voucher for my cancelled flights with easyjet back in April. They launched on their website of then changing to opt for a refund.
I spent 3 hours trying to get through today to be told that as I had originally opted for a voucher I cannot now have a refund.
Surely this cannot be legal?

Misha says:
21 July 2020

I am in this same situation, 3 bookings cancelled in April and it was before easyjet had the refund option. I don’t want a voucher, which i have explained to easyjet, as my husband is an at risk person and doubt we will be going anywhere anytime soon.

Easyjet basically told me to stick it. voucher or nothing. Looking to find out what i can do

Donna Oneill says:
16 July 2020

I have continually asked for a refund, I booked five return flights. Easyjet have ignored me and issued a voucher. I have called continuously. The last call was 2.13 hours on the phone, I now owe people money for their flights and easyjet promised to call me back within 48 hours. They haven’t. On hold again ! Saying I cannot have refund now a voucher has been raised. This is for £1393.00 so not small. I need my money back to give people theirs. How do I get anywhere with this. So upset ! Any help much appreciated

Christine Hart says:
16 July 2020

My flight with Virgin was cancelled in May. Four emails and a recorded delivery letter later and still no contact. WhatsAps suggested but they did not reply. Tried phoning but no one answers just a recorded message and after 50 minutes was cut off.

Kev says:
17 July 2020

BA cancelled my flight. No mention of a refund, more importanly the two options on the site they told me to go to both result in you not getting a refund. They have deliberatly worded one option rebook and the ither cancel to imply theyre different but they are not. I got duped into accidentally accepting a voucher that i now know, as it doesnt even say in the emails you get back, that it cannot be refunded or exchanged. So its far far worse than the product i originally had. Im so upset i have tried all day to soeak to them but they just say go away as if theyre talking pennies but it’s a thousand pound of my money i dont know what to do

Bob Cartwright says:
20 July 2020

I had flight to Dortmund in April with Easyjet which were cancelled. Some time later I was offered either a voucher for future travel or a refund for which I would have to wait ages. As I wished to travel to Dortmund again in 2021 for a football match I opted for the voucher. At first it appeared they were offering a voucher for the full amount but on receiving details I found they had reduced the cost of the flights by £10.00 which they reimbursed as a supposed £10.00 bonus for being kind enough to accept a voucher. They also ignored a £60 additional charge I had paid for changing the date of one one the flights, a mere 2 hours after the original booking, some 6 months before the actual flights. I emailed Easyset nearly two months ago detailing these discrepancies but they have ignored me. I am now getting additionally concerned by comments from others who have accepted vouchers only to find they can only be used for flights booked by phone which are proving considerably more expensive than flights booked on line. Should I now tell them I want a refund instead?