European Union Says Flight Refund Policy Isn’t Vague: You’re Owed Cash
This week, the European Union reiterated that laws around the flight refund policy still require airlines to offer you a cash refund. Despite the numerous, ongoing issues with COVID-19, that doesn’t mean airlines can force you to take a voucher. Here’s an update for anyone facing a cancellation of flights and wondering what the flight refund policy is during this pandemic.
EU Flight Refund Policy
Under European laws, if your flight is canceled, the airline must offer you a cash refund. During this pandemic, airlines are desperate to hold onto their cash. Everyone wants a refund, and it’s rough having to give away all of your money. Thus, airlines were only giving out vouchers for future travel. In some instances (looking at you, Air France) they were really sticking it to the customers.
This week, EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said that forcing customers to take vouchers is illegal. Coronavirus be damned, this situation hasn’t changed the law. Thus, the airlines are still required to give you a cash refund if you want it. They can OFFER you a voucher, but you must also have the option of a cash refund. You can choose a voucher, but the key point here is that you must be given the option of a cash refund.
Following Similar Events in the U.S.
This follows a similar statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation. After airlines in the U.S. were forcing people to take vouchers and denying cash refunds, the DOT stepped in. Cancelled flight = you have the right to a cash refund. This event has not changed the flight refund policy / applicable laws.
If an airline previously forced you to take a voucher, it’s worth re-engaging the airline. Point out that the appropriate legal entities have weighed in and said that the airlines must offer you a refund. They can’t force you to take a voucher if you don’t want it. If they told you “only a voucher”, point out that this isn’t legal. Work with the airline to exercise your rights. This is a tough time for everyone, and I completely understand that the airlines don’t want to empty their bank accounts to refund cash to everyone. However, what they want to do and what the law says here aren’t the same.