EU Says Airlines Must Give Full Refunds for Cancelled Flights
The Department of Transportation clarified on Friday that airlines must give customers refunds when flights are canceled or significantly delayed during the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union on Wednesday issued a similar statement, reiterating that EU law requires reimbursements to be made within seven days.
“Airlines must refund canceled flight tickets,” EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said in an emailed statement per Bloomberg. “They can of course also offer a voucher but — and this is very important — only if the customer agrees to accept this.” The calcification from the EU Transport Commissioner comes after several airlines are forcing customers to accept vouchers in order to avoid paying out cash as they struggle during the coronavirus outbreak.
I wrote recently about one such case where an Air France flight was cancelled last and the customer requested a refund. But he received an email asking to claim a voucher instead of being issued a refund. Then Amex refused a chargeback.
Both the U.S. Department of Transportation and the European Commissioner for Transport were forced to make these clarifications as many airlines continue to claim that customers must accept a voucher. Make sure to request a cash refund when your flight is cancelled or significantly delayed. You have the option to accept a voucher, and some airlines are even offering incentives to people that do so, but remember that you do not have to. If you want the cash refund, the airline should give it to you. Obviously the airlines are hurting for cash and they have a good reason for wanting people to take vouchers. But many people are also hurting financially, so they need that cash just as much or even more.