/ 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.

03/11/2020: More than £1 billion still outstanding

Months into the pandemic, our latest analysis reveals that more than £1bn in refunds for cancelled holidays, between March and October, remains outstanding.

That means one in five (21%) holidays where a cash refund was requested still haven’t been refunded.

We surveyed more than 7,500 people who have had a package holiday cancelled as a result of the outbreak. Overall, more than £8bn worth of holidays have been cancelled since March, leaving millions of people fighting to get back the money that they are owed.

While we previously highlighted that the average amount outstanding for flight-only bookings is just over £400, this survey suggests that the average cancelled holiday cost is a huge £1,784.

We’ve previously highlighted the impact that withheld or delayed refunds can have on passengers, especially during such a stressful time. This research further adds to those concerns.

Perhaps most worryingly, nearly four in ten (37%) people who have had a package holiday cancelled by their provider since the beginning of the outbreak said the experience has had a negative impact on their confidence in the travel industry.

We want to see action taken to both support the industry through this period and ensure that people can have the confidence that they need to book travel in the future.

The government must urgently set out its plan to save the travel sector, including introducing a temporary travel guarantee fund to support travel companies that are struggling to meet their refund obligations.

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.

Comments

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
TELETEX HOLIDAYS
PAY UP/ NEVER AGAIN NO STAR RATINGS

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.

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.

We’ve booked flights from Manchester to Barcelona with Vueling for this half-term.

They cancelled the outward flight and have refunded us — no problem.

But they’re refusing to refund the return flight (due on Friday). All we can do is change the date by up to 60 days, free of charge.

What are our rights please?

Many thanks!

Kevin Roche says:
2 November 2020

Michael Oleary was on BBC Breakfast this morning saying that Which was lying when you said there are still people waiting for refunds. My flight on April 17th 2020 was cancelled and I asked for a refund. There is still no sign of it. What can I do? Do I have to ask my credit card company to cover it now?

David robinson says:
3 November 2020

I have five groups of return flights with Easyjet to Alicante, Faro and Palma for summer2021. Easyjet have pulled out of Newcastle for flights to these destinations. I have applied for a refund for aprox £2500 to which I received automated replies saying that the flights have not been cancelled and are being cancelled on a seven day rolling program, yet if you go on the website the flights do not exist. I have accommodation booked separately therefore need flights. I don’t know whether to book alternative flights on the basis that they will be cancelled or if they are not cancelled I will have two lots of flight bookings. anyone else in the same situation.

Our package holiday to Dubai was cancelled, in July I received a credit voucher for the cost of the holiday. I have written to the company several times stating I do not want a voucher, I want my money back. My husband is disabled on the highly vulnerable category and therefore we would not travel at all – I have had no response from the company (Destination 2.co.uk) and you cannot call them. The total cost of the holiday was in excess of £3000 and we cannot afford to book anywhere in the UK without this. My voucher expires at the end of December and I am really concerned that they will go out of business – I have also highlighted this to my MP who has contacted them and not had a response. Can anyone at Which help, we are really desperate and worried

Sharon Mess says:
10 November 2020

Ryanair eventually issued a credit voucher to my Ryanair account for Covid-19 cancellation of flights in April this year. It has disappeared. Initially I completed a refund form, no refund. Funnily enough they haven’t maintained a record on my account showing cancellation of the April flights. The only proof I have is from my credit card payment. It all seems very sly and underhand to me. I am now going to go down the route of claiming from my credit card company as I’ve had enough trying to get anything from Ryanair.

My flights were booked in February with Teletext Holidays then subsequently cancelled due to Covid.
Ryanair refunded Teletext the money on the 14th August and since then I have had several phone calls to Teletext requesting my refund. I am owed £623.68 and as I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May I do not wish a voucher as I am having ongoing treatment. I want my money.

I have been told on several occasions that to wait days or that the money was pending. None of this has been true.

My last call was on 9th October, I recordered the phone call and informed Teletext of this, I was told I would get a refund within 14 working days. I also asked for an email confirming this, Zara the customer service advisor, told me she couldn’t email me directly but would ask the email department to email me ?? I also asked for a call back from a manager , I was put on hold for 15 minutes, then told no one was available but would get a call back.
Obviously none of this has happened, I am absolutely disgusted with Teletext holidays customer service.

I am ringing Teletext as we speak , I have been told that they are starting refunding from 1st November, which again is a lie, and it would be 7 working days as they have only just got the money back from Ryanair. I was told on the 15th September my refund was pending ? I do not believe anything I am told by them any more.

I am struggling to know what to do next, I have enough stress with my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment without all this.

Thanks for listening.

Our return flight from Bologna in March was cancelled by Ryanair, we applied for a full refund and had confirmation that we had applied, since then we have had a couple of emails apologising for the delay but no refund. You cannot speak to anyone , by phone, it just cuts you off after a while, or on their website. I tried again recently via their website but now it appears that they think I did not purchase direct, but I did and I have the proof that I did,
our insurance company paid up on the rest of the trip within a couple of weeks of applying, why can’t Ryanair?

any chance Mr O’Leary is up for a face to face meeting with all us liars!!!!.

I’m still waiting for a Ryanair refund for a flight in May, cancelled at the end of April by Ryanair. I’ve now complained twice about the delay in refund but not had a reply. Any advice welcomed!

An usual twist to our refund saga. Again Ryanair – but we booked and paid for our flights in May through ‘Direct Flights’.

Chasing Ryanair who now claim they refunded ‘Flights Direct’ in September.

Flights Direct are not responding to my e-mails. Angry as Ryanair confirmed a refund was on its way – only to find that I as their customer are treated less favourably than their agent.

Nine months since we paid for these cancelled flights!!!

Update: Flights Direct have just reimbursed us what they were repaid by Ryan Air (in September) less a £20 ‘service charge’ which isn’t refundable according to their ‘small print’ and not covered by cancelled flight regulations.

It appears anyone who uses an ‘Agent’, rather than dealing and paying direct will loose out when they add their administration fees on top something that wasn’t made clear at the time.

I write In response to your latest article dated the 3/11/20 as I am one of probably many that are still trying hard to claim the cash refund we are told over and over again that we are entitled to when you read up on our consumer rights.

I booked a holiday with Caribbean Classics Ltd back in September 2019 Who T/A Travel Day Ltd paying the full balance on the 21/2/20 for a Holiday to St Luica dated the 15th-29th May. This holiday was cancelled due to COVID-19 and we requested a full cash refund on many occasions.

To date we are still fighting to get our money back and are now in the process of taking this to the small claims court.

As a consumer, I feel totally let down by this whole system as feel that ABTA and ATOL are just on the side of the travel companies, you mention the bigger names in some of your reports but what about all the smaller companies out there that are still breaking the law?

We need someone to help us and hope that you ‘Which’ can take this campaign further and bring this back out in the open so something can be done.

Janice Clement says:
21 December 2020

easyjet originally offered me only a flight voucher or a re-book back in April. I chose a flight voucher because I felt under pressure. I’ve since tried to claim a refund, but easyjet keeps referring me back to the voucher.

Jet2.com cancelled my return flight (02/02/2021) on Thursday December 20 (5 days ago) and Sid that I would receive a refund of my ticket price within 28 days, not the mandatory 7 days so, if they do not make the payment in the next two days can I sue them?

They didn’t offer an alternative flight but told me to re-book and when I did I saw that the seat-booking costs had increased significantly so they are trying to make extra profit by capitalising on a situation they created and they now have two lots of my money. They said, “ We are sorry, but due to the latest government travel advice, your flight(s) is no longer going ahead as we will be operating a reduced flying programme.“ yet I had not seen any mention of Government travel advice at that point and what they have actually done is cancel their Tuesday flights but keeping the Saturday flights so that the passengers that would be on two flights will now be condensed onto one flight to reduce Jet2.com’s costs.

THE STORY SO FAR:

1) Ryanair cancels outbound and inbound flights in May 2020 for my group.

2) Offered vouchers but REFUSED vouchers and opted for REFUND, following Ryanair’s online process.

3) No refund issued and unable to get any answer from Ryanair for two months up to July, after several forms of attempting communication with Ryanair.

4) On the advice of Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert, contacted the credit card company and cancelled the payment made (charge back).

5) Ryanair RE-CHARGED THE CREDIT CARD within a short period, claiming to the credit card company that they had issued vouchers, A BLATANT LIE, but at least they can respond to something!

6) Sent a formal LETTER OF COMPLAINT to Ryanair Customer Services on 28th November 2020 via registered post.
( Their web site says they will respond to complaints in writing within 15 days, hmm… )

7) Merry Christmas Ryanair – it’s 25th December 2020 and no responses from Ryanair so far. No refund made.

8) Sent formal letter by registered post, notifying Ryanair of intent to raise a COURT CLAIM against them on 11th January 2021, giving Ryanair the opportunity of 7 working days from receipt of notification, to acknowledge the notification and initiate a refund to the credit card.

9) THE CLOCK IS TICKING ON RYANAIR. They have not responded, they have not refunded, as of 22nd January 2021.

On Tuesday 26th January, we check if the refund has been made and if not, we IMMEDIATELY initiate a COURT CLAIM against Ryanair, to FORCE them to REFUND.

Need I say more!

RyanairCourtClaim

Bit of a long story. We booked flights Dec2019 Man – Heath, Heath to LasV flying out 7th March 2020, returning Miami – Heath, Heath – Man at a cost of £1183.00. Our holiday was cut short, and on the 15th of March we had to get from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, back to the Uk, because of Covid shutting everywhere down. We managed to get to LA, when we tried to change our flights at the BA desk, the assistant was 30mins + trying to do this for us, in the end she had been told it was easier for us to book new flights and sort it out when we got home, so we did at a cost of £1110 (one way). We were offered a voucher, which we accepted, but then were told we couldnt have it as we were part way into our trip, did they expect us to sit on a beach in Miami for two weeks??? hotels were shutting down. BA stopped responding to my emails.So basically, we had two unused flights each, which BA knew we were not taking as they changed our reservation details when we purchased our new return flight.

JILL FLAGG-YOUNG says:
10 March 2021

I had a flight booked from Johannesburg to the Island of St Helena in September 2020 returning in October 2020 with the then SAA and Airlink as a combined airline. Since SAA have gone into liquidation, they have twice now offered me vouchers to use by 2023. Given that the service when it eventually starts flying to St Helena is run by Airlink and SAA are no longer involved, should I accept the SAA vouchers given its not within EU/UK remit? What do you suggest – I cant see SAA planes running a service from here to South Africa any time soon with COVID!

I booked a round trip from London to Lagos (connecting flight via Adiss Abba) through an agent ‘GetAflight’ and received an email through the same agent that recent government rules have added Ethiopia to Red list countries which will impact my journey. Requesting for a refund, surprisingly the agent told me that a 50% fee applied. Save my soul

A recent holiday to Maderia was cancelled by TUI only 2 days prior to our travel date. Refund was processed effectively within 14 days which was great. HoweverI had paid a significant amount of money with TUI’s partner Chromatics for Covid testing. TUI stated we would be entiteld to a refund however all attempts to contact Chromatics by email have ended up with no response? The phone line just refers us back to TUI who then send me back in full circle and tell me to email Chromatics. Very frustrating!