Widespread cancellations of flights and holidays have left many people helpless, and in some cases stranded. We’re launching a 10-point plan to maintain consumer trust.
We’ve heard from hundreds of people who have been refused a refund for a cancelled flight or holiday, and in some cases people are being denied access to hundreds and thousands of pounds at a time when their finances are already under strain.
In fact, our latest research found that 20 of the UK’s biggest travel operators and airlines are openly breaking the law by delaying refunds for cancelled trips or removing customers’ refund rights altogether.
Struggling to get a refund for a cancelled holiday? Tell us about it using #RefundPassengers.
We believe the Government needs to step in and ensure travel companies offer refunds instead of just offering vouchers. pic.twitter.com/AKuhGqfGrI
— Which? (@WhichUK) April 22, 2020
Some airlines and package travel providers are refusing to provide refunds, in a breach of their legal obligations to their customers, while others are providing vouchers or credit notes – which may prove to be worthless if holiday firms run into financial trouble.
Worryingly, passengers remain stranded overseas with no choice but to spend hundreds of pounds to return home.
Unfortunately in some instances, even these flights have been cancelled, leaving people even more out of pocket and struggling to get a refund for the additional flight.
To add to the confusion, many people still have no guarantee of when they will next be able to travel or whether they will be covered by their travel insurance policy if they do, making re-booking incredibly difficult.
That is why we’re calling on the government to take urgent action to support the travel industry and make sure passengers aren’t left out of pocket for cancelled flights or holidays.
While we recognise the immense pressure that industry is under, it is vital now more than ever that people can count on their consumer rights and that trust and confidence in the travel sector is not permanently damaged as a result.
Our 10-point plan
As part of our plan, which you can read in full here, we’re calling for:
✈ The right to a refund to be protected: All consumers who are currently eligible to receive a refund must be offered a cash refund when their flight or holiday is cancelled.
✈ Credit notes to be protected and optional: A credit note/voucher may be offered as an alternative but not sole option when a flight or holiday is cancelled. These vouchers must also be time-limited, with a full refund provided at the end of the term, with terms and conditions clearly and proactively communicated. All credit notes/vouchers must be insolvency protected.
✈ Action when airlines fail to refund customers: Airlines must be supported throughout the outbreak and effectively held to account when failing to offer and issue refunds for cancelled flights.
✈ Flexibility for companies struggling to manage during this crisis: The statutory 14-day refund period for package holidays should be temporarily extended to a maximum of one month.
There is a clear need for the government to urgently set out how it will support travel firms and airlines to ensure they can meet their legal obligations.
While we do not want to see the industry suffer further as a result of this outbreak, it clearly cannot be on consumers to prop up airlines and travel firms, especially when so many will be in difficult financial situations of their own.
Have you had a flight or holiday cancelled? What was your experience like?
Do you think the government should step in to make sure money for cancelled flights and holidays is refunded?