Estimated 2m people ‘left out of pocket for flights they could not board’

More than two million people have received no money back for flights they were unable to board during the coronavirus pandemic. Which? Estimates.

Around 2.3 million people across the UK were left out of their pockets for flights that were not canceled, although circumstances often meant they could not reasonably, or in some cases legally, travel to their destination, the consumer group calculated.

The estimates are based on a survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK in February.

People were asked if they had booked a flight that had been operating since March 2020 but could not take and if they had received a refund.

Since the UK lockdowns began in March last year, even though the airline did not cancel the flight, millions of people had flight bookings that they were unable to use for reasons beyond their control.

This has resulted in customers having no legal right to a refund or guaranteeing a successful claim through their travel insurance or bank. Which? said.

Many passengers have been prevented from traveling due to local or national barriers, restrictions on entry at destination or the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advising against non-essential travel.

Which? Under these circumstances, passengers would often only have had the choice between rebooking their flight or losing their money.

Rescheduling could mean paying a significant price difference if the new flights were more expensive and trying to choose new dates without knowing when international travel is likely to resume.

The consumer group also noted that trips against FCDO advice often void travel insurance.

From those who told what? They didn’t get their money back, with half (49%) saying they couldn’t travel to stay home due to national or regional lockdown restrictions.

In one of Which? In the featured case, Rebekah Evans of Barry in South Wales booked flights from Bristol to Turkey with easyJet through an online travel agent for more than £ 2,000 in early 2020.

A local lockdown was imposed two weeks before the holiday and should be reviewed the day before the scheduled flight.

Ms. Evans has not rebooked flights or accepted a voucher in the hopes of being able to fly if the local lockdown is lifted.

But people were then told to leave Wales only for emergencies. Which? said.

At the time of the flight, England was unblocked so it went on.

Ms. Evans initially missed the opportunity to apply for a voucher for the cost of her flight, but since which? intervened, easyJet has agreed to offer her a voucher as a gesture of goodwill.

EasyJet told Which ?: “We require customers to contact us prior to departure to select an alternative option. Unfortunately, Miss Evans didn’t contact us until after the flight. As a token of goodwill, we will take this opportunity to contact you to offer a voucher for the value of your flights. “

Ryanair told Which? Passengers booking non-refundable flights are not eligible for a refund if they choose not to travel on flights that were operated.

Which? First of all, the issue was raised that people could not get their money back for flights that they could not get back due to a lockdown with both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) in March 2020.

While not all the passengers who told what? They didn’t get their money back. They were prohibited by law from flying. The consumer champ has shared his findings with the CMA to help investigate whether airlines have violated consumer legal rights by failing to offer cash refunds for flights they couldn’t lawfully take from lock restrictions.

Which? advises anyone considering booking flights for this summer to wait until the international travel situation becomes clearer.

It was recommended to book a package tour instead of a flight-only booking to improve passenger protection and only book with a trusted provider with a generous and flexible booking policy.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said: “With non-essential travel currently illegal, airlines must do their part to protect public health by making sure no one is left out of their pockets to abide by the law and not to travel.

“All airlines should give passengers the option to cancel for a full refund and free rebooking options while those restrictions remain in place.”

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