Airline and Credit Card Issuer Work Together to Refuse Refund for Cancelled Flight
Airlines are canceling flights all over the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. Policies vary, but companies right now prefer to hold on to cash, especially airlines, as travel demand has plummeted. So getting cash refunds it not always easy. Airlines are trying to push people to take vouchers instead, and even offering incentives for them to do so.
That is fine when they offer a voucher and you accept. But what about when they just deny you a refund altogether for a flight that the airline cancelled? That is exactly what is happening with Air France and it is even worse than that as the credit card issuer is also involved on refusing a chargeback.
This issue was posted on FlyerTalk. The flight was cancelled last Saturday and the customer requested a refund (via online form). But he received an email asking to claim a voucher instead of being issued a refund. This is for a ticket worth €3,500. This is the Twitter exchange with Air France customer service regarding the cancelled flight.
An 18 month voucher would be acceptable for some, but this customer still preferred a full cash refund. So he proceeded to file a chargeback claim with American Express. This should be your next step if an airline refuses to issue a refund when you are legally owed one. In this case the French Government has taken an “ordinance” where a refund is replaced by an “a voucher”, valid for 18 months, but that seems to violate EU’s rule EC261. I am not a lawyer, but I would expect EU laws to take precedence.
So going back to the chargeback request, there is a strange twist. The customer called Amex France to request a chargeback. “They refused to open the case stating that they have been instructed, as Air France is a partner, to not open any cases. All reimbursement cases have to be processed by AXA as an insurance claim.” AXA is a French insurance company and the lead insurer for Air France.
A strange case where the credit card issuer backs up the airline on a cancelled flights. The customer now really has no other options, besides taking legal action I guess. The airline refuses to give back the money for a flight that they cancelled and the credit card company refuses to do anything about it. It is crazy that Air France and Amex can just team up together and refuse chargebacks. Seems like EU laws are on the customer’s side here.