Covid-19: can I get a refund for a cancelled journey?

Air France plane
Air France plane

Passengers have a right to a payment refund if an airline or ferry firm cancels a journey due to the Covid-19 crisis – and it should be paid within seven days of a request.

This has been underlined by the EU and by France’s leading consumer group and applies to all carriers including low-cost companies which operate in the EU. It is also the case for train, bus and coach travel but the repayment deadline is 14 days for bus and coach travel and one month for rail.

Many readers have told Connexion of their frustration at only being offered vouchers for future trips when they requested a refund. The European Commission has written to all 27 states reminding them that offering reimbursements is an obligation, not a matter of choice for travel companies. Launching a package of tourism sector measures, EU commissioners warned of legal action, with potential fines, against EU countries which allow companies operating on their soil to break this law.

The EU recognised that the pandemic had put “heavy financial strains” on travel operators and made suggestions as to how the alternative option of vouchers (which firms prefer) might be made more appealing to customers but stressed that there are no plans to change people’s refund right. Consumer body UFC-Que Choisir has launched legal action against 20 of the largest airlines operating in France, following warning letters it sent in April to 57 firms. The list includes Air France and Ryanair.

Read more: how will summer holidays be affected within France?

Airlines argue that refunding everyone in the current climate may cause bankruptcies due to cash flow difficulties. France and 11 other states took their side at a recent meeting of EU transport ministers, arguing for a relaxation of the rule. After the EU warning, Air France said it would start offering refunds for flights cancelled from May 15. It also said it would boost the value of the vouchers, including existing ones, by 15%. UFC, however, says this is prejudicial to the many people ...

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