Cancelled flights: How to get a refund if your flight was cancelled over Covid-19

Many holidaymakers have been struggling to get flights and package holidays refunded despite them being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 12:13 pm

Jet2 chief executive Steve Heapy said the failure of travel firms to give customers prompt refunds for cancelled holidays is “a bit like theft”.

The airline and tour operator boss added that delays in issuing payouts has given the public “a very bad impression” of the travel industry.

What are the rules on flight refunds?

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Lots of holidaymakers have struggled to obtain refunds for flights that were cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Customers are entitled to a full cash refund within seven days for most cancelled flights.

This covers flights where the airline is based in the UK or EU, or you are departing from a UK or EU airport.

How are package holidays impacted?

The Package Travel Regulations – which ensures that the company selling the package to a consumer must have guarantees in place if the provider or seller ceases to trade – protects customers.

If consumers cannot go on their paid-for package holiday then they should get their money within 14 days.

Why are people still struggling to get refunds?

Lots of customers have faced long delays in getting refunds for cancelled trips during the pandemic and consumer group Which? indicates more than £1 billion is still yet to be paid to package holiday customers.

Why has this happened?

Travel companies are now facing the dual pressure of trying to slow down their losses and there is also operational difficulties in businesses having to process more payouts than normal.

The Civil Aviation Authority said its discussions with airlines resulted in them changing their practices and they are all now offering cash refunds.

Customers have also been reassured by the Competition and Markets Authority which is continuing to investigate package holiday companies and added that the authority “won’t hesitate to take action” if it finds “any business is not complying with consumer protection law”.

What about alternatives to refunds?

Many firms have tried to ease their cash flow problems by encouraging customers to accept refund credit notes or vouchers instead of cash refunds.

Although vouchers are often worth more than the original booking – to incentivise customers not to request cash – the Civil Aviation Authority has warned they are not Atol-protected.

That means holders face being out of pocket if the issuing firm goes bust.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.