/ Travel & Leisure

Refund Us. Reform Travel: join our campaign

Passengers are owed billions from airlines and holiday companies for trips cancelled due to coronavirus. Companies must obey the law and refund you.

16/09/2020: 17 years since the last CAA fine

Airlines operating in the UK haven’t faced a single fine for breaking consumer law on refunds, delays, or cancellations since 2003. 

At the same time, the CAA has only used its powers to apply to the courts for an enforcement order once. 

Without the ability to issue fines or take swift action against airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority has struggled to effectively stand up for the passengers it is there to protect.

Several airlines already know this, and there’s a real risk some have felt empowered to break the law as a result – and without the threat of penalties, they may continue to do so.

Trust in the travel industry has been battered in recent months, so passengers need a strong regulator they can count on.

It’s clear that serious reforms need to be made to the sector – as a first step, the government must take urgent steps to ensure the CAA has the tools it needs to effectively hold airlines to account.

12/08/2020: Airlines failing on their commitments

Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, and Tui are failing to refund passengers in the timeframes they agreed to, despite promising the CAA they would commit to speeding up the refund process.

What’s more, despite our sharing of more than 12,000 complaints of passengers struggling to get refunds, the CAA has opted not to take enforcement action against these airlines, instead saying it would monitor and continue to push for improvements.

Read the full story

If airlines are continually allowed to openly break the law on refunds, it will set a dangerous precedent that sees airline continue to treat passengers unfairly without consequence.

The CAA needs to have the power to take swift and meaningful action against airlines that have repeatedly disregarded the law.

22/07/2020: Coordinated BEUC action

After thousands of people shared their refunds nightmares with us last week, Which? is now taking part in coordinated action led by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) to call for an EU-wide solution to resolve the refund scandal. 

Consumer groups from across Europe have identified airlines operating across the continent that are consistently breaking the law on refunds and treating passengers unfairly – including Aegean, Air France, EasyJet, KLM, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Portugal, and Transavia.

As part of this joint action, BEUC has lodged a complaint with the European Commission calling for urgent action to hold airlines to account and secure refunds for those passengers struggling to get one.

18/07/2020: DfT protects refund credit notes

The Department for Transport (DfT) has said it will protect refund credit notes for cancelled package holidays.

This is something we’ve been calling on since the start of this crisis, and the news will come as a huge relief to the countless customers who’ve accepted one in place of a cash refund.

It means people can now be confident their money is protected if they decide to support their tour operator by accepting a refund credit note, but it later goes bust.

But package travel companies should not use this as an excuse to continue forcing credit notes onto their customers and must make clear when they have the right to a cash refund.

16/07/2020: Join our campaign

Four months into the coronavirus pandemic, we’re still hearing from hundreds of consumers who have yet to get money back for cancelled flights and holidays.

Many people are simply being told that they have to wait until their refund can be processed, in some instances up to 6 months after they were meant to travel.

Others are only being offered vouchers for future travel, and are struggling to even claim a cash refund as an option.

This is an unacceptable situation – lots of people are facing financial hardships of their own while companies are being allowed to openly break the law.

Yet, the Government continues to be silent on the issue while the regulator has failed to hold law-breaking companies to account.

Our “Refund Us. Reform Travel.” campaign is demanding that travel companies refund passengers immediately and, as international travel begins to re-open, the government takes urgent action to make sure passengers are never in this position again.

Inundated with complaints

We asked people to share their refund experiences with us and received more than 12,000 complaints in six weeks from passengers who are struggling to get refunds for cancelled flights worth £5.6 million in total.

Passengers are owed an average of £446.40, and have collectively spent a total of 52,000 hours – almost six years – trying to chase their airline for the money they are due.

We analysed all of these complaints and have reported airlines directly to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Our data shows that Ryanair was the worst offender, owing £1.15m total equating to 1 in every 5 pounds that was reported to us.

This is despite the budget airline’s relatively cheap fares. Respondents to our tool were owed an average of £206 by the Irish airline, compared to an average of £1,032 for Virgin Atlantic.

The second most complained about airline, EasyJet, accounted for 14% of responses – less than a third of Ryanair’s with a total of £663,000 owed in refunds. In addition, three in 10 said they were yet to receive a response from the airline.

Virgin Atlantic was the third most reported airline, accounting for 7% of all complaints. More than £915,000 is collectively owed to Virgin Atlantic customers.

Join our campaign

In May, we published a ten-point plan setting out our calls on the government, industry and regulators to maintain passenger trust in travel.

This included calls for the government to step in and support companies to fulfil their legal obligations.

Trust in the travel industry has plunged to an all-time low following this disruption. As flights and destinations start to open up again, companies must protect passengers’ rights – issuing refunds where required – to restore our trust.

Have you had a holiday or flight cancelled? Did you struggle to get the refund you are owed?

Do you agree that the government needs to reform travel so passengers aren’t left in this position again?

Sign our petition and join our campaign.

Richard Abrahams says:
29 September 2020

My flight has been cancelled twice by KLM. I have requested travel vouchers but have been informed that I must contact Kissandfly Travel Agents. Kiss and Fly have not responded. KLM have refused to deal with the matter

What are my rights and is there something I can do about it

Thanks Richard

In the event of airline cancellation you are entitled to a full refund within 7 days. Lookup EU Denied Boarding legislation (EC 261/2004). CMA guidelines are also clear on refunds. Check out their COVID-19 pages. You do NOT have to accept vouchers, that is only one option as is a full cash refund or to rebook. You might also like to check out the Consumer Rights Act 2015 on sales contracts and unfair terms. I used all this with my credit card company during a chargeback and got 100% back. The reason you will have been directed back to your travel agents is that your sales contract is with agent and not airline.

William Denovan says:
18 October 2020

been waiting 6 months for company cancelled refund .After numerous e _mails calls recorded mail
To TELETEX HOLIDAYS C/O TRULY HOLIDAYS UXBRIDGE they have in there bank account £735 OF my money .and refuse to give me back what is lawfully mine. How can they get away with this cant the law COME TO ALL OUR AID and charge these companies with FRAUD .THEY WILL ALL GO
BANKRUPT/ AND WILL ALL GET HEE HAW through no fault of our own

Can you claim from your bank under a chargeback or section 75? You do not need to deal with the company and claim the money back from the card you purchased on. You only have 120 days from departure date to claim on a debit card with chargeback. Six years legally via the section 75 route. You just need to submit a few docs to your bank as proof and they should start the process. That is how I successfully got all my money back. You don’t say what you booked, but if its flights or a package holiday you are covered for cancellations by airline within 7 days under EU Denied Boarding legislation. Package holidays are covered by ABTA if the company is a membership number. EU legislation covers package refunds within 14 days.

Joe Herron says:
19 October 2020

Flights to France booked for 19th April. Ryanair cancelled our flights and tried, not unreasonably, to make us accept vouchers for future travel. We declined and opted for a refund. They say, in a generic statement on their website, that they are working as fast as they can to process the refund. Here we are in the second half of October – and nothing. We need someone who can champion the consumers cause and stand up to these disreputable companies who flagrantly ignore legislation.