It’s been roughly four months since countries went into lockdown, and airlines began grounding their planes, cancelling flights and affecting millions of passengers around the world. But it wasn’t just cancelled flights — many people had to quash hotel reservations, cruises and many other getaway plans.
The good news is that slowly, many countries have started reopening, and we’ve begun to hear the sound of plane engines flying above us once more. However, many of us are still struggling to obtain refunds — even vouchers — for original travel plans from back when the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown started.
That’s why we’ve put together a guide for you on steps you can take to help you obtain your refunds if you’re still having issues.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, many airlines offered vouchers right off the bat. However, according to EU guidelines, air passenger rights state you’re entitled to a cash refund, regardless of the pandemic. Moreover, the regulation also outlines that reimbursements should be made within seven days. However, airlines are understandably overwhelmed right now, given the unprecedented circumstances and aren’t always meeting this legal requirement. Many are also doing absolutely everything possible to avoid giving refunds or making it agonisingly difficult to obtain one. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do, as recommended by the EU:
- If the airline doesn’t respond to your request within two months or you’re unsatisfied with their response, you can contact a National Enforcement Body (NEB). NEBs are responsible for the implementation of Regulation 261/2004 regarding flights leaving from airports located in their territory and flights coming from countries to an airport situated in their territory.
- If you are a resident of an EU country, Norway or Iceland, and if the airline is based in one of these countries, the European Consumer Centers Network in your country of residence can help you. This network aims to provide consumers with a wide variety of services, from providing information on their rights to advising and assisting with complaints and resolving disputes.
- Depending on the nature of your claim, the European Small Claims Procedure may be useful. This procedure aims to simplify the assessment and resolution of small cross-border disputes and reduce the costs and duration of such actions.
- If you purchased your ticket online, you can submit your complaint on the EU Online Dispute Resolution platform.
Other transport and travel
The EU is the only place where a full set of passenger rights protects everyone travelling by plane, rail, ship and bus. Therefore, if your ticket was cancelled for other transport methods, including train, bus, coach, ferry and travel packages, you’re entitled to a reimbursement or voucher. If you opt for a voucher, EU guidelines published in May state vouchers should have a minimum validity period of one year and have to be refunded after a maximum of one year if they’re not used. Transport companies should be flexible (for example, allowing passengers to travel on the same route under the same service conditions). Vouchers should also be transferable to another traveller.
Hotels, car rentals and events
Unfortunately, EU consumer law doesn’t regulate conditions or consequences when it comes to hotels or other accommodation reservations cancelled due to the pandemic. Therefore, you’re best off checking your contract with the establishment or their website for updates on their refund policy due to Covid-19.
Like for accommodation, EU consumer law doesn’t regulate car rental reservations or the cancellation of sports and cultural events.
If you have travel insurance, check to see if you’re covered for any money you can’t get back. It’ll depend on the policy you’ve taken out and if it includes cancellation cover, airspace closure cover, travel disruption, etc.
Nevertheless, apart from checking your contract, understanding your refund policy or checking with your travel insurer, there are a few things you’re advised to do if you’re having problems:
- National law for your country may protect your consumer rights. Check here for specific legislation regarding accommodation and events, and what you’re entitled to.
- If you know you’re owed a refund but are having trouble obtaining one, contact the European Consumer Centre Network in the country where you live, which can assist you and follow your case with the accommodation provider or booking platform.
- If you booked a reservation online, you can submit your complaint on the EU Online Dispute Resolution platform for free.
- If you used a credit card to pay for any service, it might be worth contacting your credit card company to see if they can help with a chargeback.
The good news is that if you purchased or booked tickets with your Monese card, we’ll let you know as soon as the refund lands in your account. Be patient and persistent. The coronavirus crisis has created a great backlog for many sectors, but especially for the travel industry. It may be a while before your money is reimbursed to you — but don’t give up. If you’ve managed to successfully get your refund for cancelled vacation plans, let us know your tips. Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.