/ 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.

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.

Madeline Wilson says:
23 July 2020

We are still waiting for 140 days now to receive our cruise money back. Cannot get in touch with P & O as they have shut phone lines down , so we have now taken out a claim 75 through our credit card. On a brighter note received excellent service from jet2 who returned our money back without us even requesting. Also well done to Premier Inn who returned our full money even though they had a none cancellation policy in place. Shame on you P & O.

Philip Lyon says:
23 July 2020

We booked flight with Virgin/Delta through the Flightcentre. Due to fly 21st March returning 4th April. Flights were cancelled mid-march and I have an email from my agent confirming that cash refund from Virgin was applied for on the 18th March (127 days ago). Still no sign of the money from Virgin. I’ve been in touch with Virgin via social media, they claim my refund was requested 27th May (just 27days ago), and that the Flightcentre will receive my refund within 120 days from that date – (that’ll take it to 24th September – 187 days after we were due to fly) . To further confuse things, I’ve had a generic email from the Flightcentre which seem to indicate they intend issuing all refunds before the end of July. I’ve had a great relationship with the flightcentre, so In my mind I know whos being economical with the truth in all this, and who’s handing onto my money illegally.

It’s absolutely disgusting.

Philip Lyon says:
23 July 2020

*hanging not handing.

Like flights, an “Event” surely has a content, a time and a place. When you pay for a booking to attend it is these combination you are buying. Any material change, particularly time and place, may have meant you would not have booked in the first place as it may have meant you were unable to attend. So I cannot see how a “postponement” can be regarded as a substitute that can be imposed on the customer.

It seems to be simply an unfair contract term and illegal?

Malcolm – I could not open the link and I believe the problem might be the initial capital H at the beginning of the URL. If there is still time within your edit facility, could you please delete the initial H or request the editor to do so? Thanks.

It would appear from the press release that Viagogo changed their terms and conditions at some point to rule out refunds where an event was being postponed or rescheduled. It would be worth Which? enquiring when that amendment to the contractual terms of buying tickets through the secondary ticketing site was made. I would contend that if it was made after the original booking then it is not binding on a purchaser who ordered their tickets before the change was made even if the order was not fulfilled until later.

We are under observation as I see it’s been corrected in your original comment!

Thanks to the moderators! I did report it.
But is it an unfair contract term?

I think only a trial would answer that question. It seems unfair to me as a consumer but the law might take a wider view. It seems to me that most commercial contracts are stuffed with terms and conditions that are unfair but so long as both parties accept them [as if the consumer has a choice! . . .] they are deemed to be legitimate.

Jacquie Smith says:
23 July 2020

Thank you Villa Plus/Easy jet. Due to depart 6th May to Cyprus, 20th May full refund in our bank. Out of blue we received a refund from Easy jet without requesting for cost of our seat booking (Not included in package). Great customer service from both companies.

Frances says:
23 July 2020

SAS have not yet refunded the cost of tickets to and from Sweden. We claimed the refund on 30th March after the outward flight was cancelled. At the time they said it would take 1 1/2 months, but disputed that we would get the return flight money as it had not yet been cancelled. It was subsequently cancelled.

Christine says:
23 July 2020

Booked a trip to Malta in mid May which was cancelled due to COVID 19. Hilton Hotels gave an immediate refund. Air Malta have told me I have to wait 6 months for a refund on the flights. They only sent me a cancellation notice for the outbound flight. They still wanted to run the return flight. Generally they have been impossible . Airlines should not only be forced to issue refunds in accordance with the law but they should also have to pay compensation where they fail to abide by the law. At the moment they are using passenger ticket money that should of been returned as a free loan and I am afraid the authorities are being complicit by not enforcing the laws that exist.

john says:
25 July 2020

what about travel insurance coys who are still selling insurance which we cannot use & refuse refund as it was just out of the 14 days change of mind time!!!!!

Byron Davies says:
25 July 2020

Like many others, I am still awaiting a refund for return flights to and from Alicante with Vueling Airlines, which we were due to take on April 2nd, and which were cancelled. This, despite numerous calls to their (Spanish) call centre, and numerous e-mails as well.

christine Smith says:
25 July 2020

still waiting for Travel up to refund IN FULL our flight in March, We signed and agreed to their T& C’s in January 2020 before they changed them illegally in March /April to reflect an admin charge .
We (along with hundreds of others) are due this money …usually £50 .
So what apart from bank and credit card charge backs are being done about this????

roger Lovegrove says:
29 July 2020

Once we escape from Covid19 members will be wanting to get back to Mediterranean holidays.
Climate change issues dictate that we should be taking the train rather than the plane.
Why is flying cheaper than a train? Why can we not catch a high speed train direct from London to Madrid, Rome or Athens? (or can we?) Why is no travel agent offering such a package? If we are to save the planet we need to err in this direction.
Transition Town Letchworth would like to run a project along these lines. Help!!

Jude Capel says:
6 August 2020

along with many others I am struggling to get a refund for flight that was originally booked to fly to Alicante on 28th April, when this was cancelled I re-booked for 12th May, this didn’t happen either, at this stage I decided to ask for a refund from Vueling however they are claiming I asked for a flight credit and will not refund my money, I have made so many phone calls , many of which are only automated, and emails in the 20’s now, I am struggling … it is very unlikely I will fly this year or next year also I cannot access the website as it tells me it does not recognise my name or email address … so even if I wanted to access the flight credit and try to sell to someone else I cannot

Rebecca Sharp says:
7 August 2020

I am due to go to Greece in Sept 20 I have paid almost 600 to date and have a balance to pay on 1st Sept. I contacted the hotel in Greece who confirmed in writing that they are closed, and will not be open for the rest of the year. My flights are with BA and have been booked. I cannot move them or do anything as BA say a travel agent (Love Holidays) booked them and they are the only ones who can make changes. I can’t get through to Love Holidays whatsoever. Can anyone advise me what to do. I would rather not travel at all this year.