Cancelled flights due to the Covid-19 pandemic raised a lot of dust and caused headaches for passengers all around the world. As a result, we received a large number of your inquiries to which we tried to offer the fastest and most accurate answers. Basically, most passengers wondered if their rights and options were the same when they wanted to cancel a flight under existing circumstances and when the flight was cancelled by the airline. That is why we have prepared a set of frequently asked questions and answered each of them. Now you can find them all in one place – below.
Before we get to individual questions and answers, we would like to note that the two situations mentioned above are completely different from each other. Your rights and possibilities are completely different depending on which of the two groups you belong to.
Most important thing you need to know is that, in case an airline cancels a flight, passengers are protected and have the rights guranteed by the Regulation 261/2004.
However, when you decide to cancel your flight, the Regulation doesn’t apply. In this case, your rights/options will depend solely on the terms of your ticket. Moreover, it can also depend on the special rules issued by the airline in the circumstances of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Now let’s discuss your most frequent questions which we have separated in the following 5 groups:
According to the Regulation 261, an airline’s liability and obligation to pay the fixed compensation for a cancelled flight does not exist if the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances which the airline could not influence nor prevent by applying all reasonable measures.
Thus, if your flight is cancelled due to measures introduced to prevent the spread of the current corona virus pandemic, which is classified as extraordinary circumstances, it does not really qualify for compensation under the Regulation 261/2004. However, no matter of the reason for the flight cancellation, you are entitled to care and/or refund of the unused ticket.
According to the Regulation 261/2004, whenever an airline cancels a flight, no matter the cancellation cause, it is obliged to offer the passenger a choice between:
Therefore, in accordance with the Regulation, regardless of the extraordinary circumstance that caused the flight cancellation, the airline is obliged, among other things, to offer you a refund for the unused flight. The choice is up to the traveler and can only be done once.
* We emphasize that during these times, airlines try to avoid a refund of the ticket price and offer passengers vouchers or change of flights free of charge. However, it is unquestionable that, for flights under the Regulation 261/2004, the passenger is entitled to a choice between a refund and redirection whenever flights are cancelled by the airline.
Despite the stated obligation under which the airline must offer passengers a choice between a refund and redirection, during these extraordinary times almost all airlines are unfortunately trying to avoid this obligation. Alternatively they offer passengers travel vouchers for future indefinite dates.
We note that such actions do not diminish the passengers’ right to a refund, however, they unfortunately call into question the length of the procedure for its realization. Therefore, in case of insisting on a refund, passengers should be willing to wait for the approval of the request longer than usual.
The best way to apply for a refund and its form is best found on the airline’s website.
* We point out that some Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands) are appealing to the EU to suspend this rule and allow a refund in the form of vouchers. While the European Commission insists that the Regulation continues to apply during the COVID-19 crisis, some countries such as the Netherlands have said they are currently not implementing it, so for some flights it will only be possible to get a voucher, but provided that it is not used within 12-18 months, passengers must be enabled to get a refund in cash. Also, the Commission can take legal action against such governments, forcing them to pay heavy fines in proceedings for violating European regulations.
Currently, airlines are gradually canceling their flights and announcing new ones almost every day, giving them the status “canceled”. The reason for this is certainly the hope that the restrictive measures will soon ease and that flights scheduled for the summer will be able to operate according to plan or that you will cancel the trip and accept a voucher or change the flight schedule, which suits airlines much better to maintain liquidity.
Please note that in accordance with the EU regulations, the cancellation of the flight by the airline opens the possibility for a refund, while the cancellation of the flight by the passenger is regulated by the conditions under which the ticket was purchased and special conditions given by the airlines in the current situation.
Given that some airlines, taking into account the existing extraordinary circumstances and the desire of passengers to no longer travel on schedule, offer the possibility of cancellation by passengers in exchange for a voucher or a new alternative flight, precise options are best to be found on the website of each airline . Alternatively, you can always check our daily updates of individual airlines’ approaches.
If, according to special conditions, you have the opportunity to use such an option until the flight itself or until a few days before, you can also wait to see if the flight will be canceled. It’s also very important that you regularly follow the airlines’ notifications about special conditions so that in the end you will not be left without the possibility of change or vouchers in case your flight ends up not being cancelled.
Cancellation of travel by passengers and the rights that belong to passengers in this case are governed by the conditions under which the ticket was purchased and the special conditions given by the airlines in the current circumstances.
However, please note that today most basic airline tickets are issued without the possibility of a refund in case of flight cancellation by the passenger, so you will usually be able to get the option to change your flight or use a voucher only if your flight is subject to special conditions of each airline.
Once more, for completely accurate information on the conditions of flight cancellation by passengers please visit the website of the airline in question.
Some airlines currently prefer to communicate by phone, some by e-mail while there are those to whom claims are submitted via online forms on their websites.
Since almost all airlines currently have a special COVID-19 section on their website where they publish new information every day, it is also the best place where you can find out how to get in touch with them. Please note that this is very important so that you don’t for instance submit a request by e-mail, and the airline receives requests only through online forms, in which case your request might remain unrecorded.
Additionally, we also advise you to always try to record the request in writing. This way you can posses evidence of the request being submitted, which allows you to take further steps in order to exercise your rights if you wish.
Unfortunately, a large number of passengers complain about the difficulty of getting in touch with airlines. In this sense we cannot suggest much more than being persistent and creative in ways to contact them.
It is also important to regularly follow the notices on the airline’s website as the means of communications they preferred yesterday may not be the same today.
Note that you can also contact the national authorities if you don’t receive a response within 4-6 weeks. The same goes if the response is negative and you disagree with it. Otherwise, you can hire Claimdon to take action on your behalf.
When the airline cancels the flight and the passenger opts for a refund of the ticket price, in accordance with the Regulation 261, the airline must provide a refund within 7 days of the choice.
In addition, under normal circumstances, airlines respond to requests within 4-6 weeks. However, many airlines are currently not meeting this deadline. In addition, they deny passengers the very possibility of a refund or make it more difficult. That is why it is certain that the refund process is now much longer than required by the Regulation 261.
Regulation 261/2004 regulates the obligation of airlines to refund an unused ticket in those situations when the flight is canceled. However, therea are several reasons why airlines refer passengers directly to agencies for refund processing when tickets are bought with them.
Accordingly, if the airline has instructed you to apply for a refund to the travel agency, be sure to try to contact them. If that doesn’t work, inform the airline and ask for a direct refund. This is their obligation under the Regulation 261/2004 anyway.
Remember our number one advice for contacing the airlines? Checking out their own guidelines shared on their website. The same is true with the travel agencies. Both change prefered means of contact regularly, so visit their website and look for instructions.
We are here to help you and of course we can take action on your behalf. However, we also encourage you to give it a try yourself before hiring Claimdon. When it comes exclusively to Covid-19 refunds, we always direct the passengers to submit the request personally first. This way there is no need to pay a fee for our services.
Call it our business policy during extraordinary circumstances which affected the whole world. If we minimize the inconvenience consequences by solely providing the information you need, we did our job well.
Nevertheless, if you don’t want to conduct the procedure yourself or you have tried but without success, we are always at your disposal and you are free to file a claim through our website.
We hope you found the answers to some of your questions. If some things are still unclear, do not hesitate to contact us via fb page Claimdon or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck! 😉