SNCF allows Covid-19 refunds, unlike low-cost airlines

SNCF has said tickets on its TGV and Intercités trains can be changed or refunded free of charge; the major low-cost airlines have not said the same

French train company SNCF has announced it will allow free exchanges and refunds on tickets due to coronavirus Covid-19, in contrast to most low-cost airlines serving France, which - so far - will not.

In a statement this week, SNCF said: “For journeys until April 20, 2020, SNCF has decided to waive fees for exchanges and refunds on TGV InOui, Ouigo and Intercités tickets.”

The move also applies to connecting TERs.

SNCF said it was aiming to help passengers “during this difficult period linked to the spread of Covid-19, which is causing a feeling of uncertainty when it comes to travel among French people and foreign tourists”, and “allows everyone to calmly prepare their movements, with the reassurance of knowing they can postpone or cancel their journeys without fees”.

SNCF also said that all TGV and Intercités trains now receive “a meticulous, deep daily clean to remove the risks of contamination as much as possible”.

No refunds from low-cost airlines

Air France has said that it will allow fee-free exchanges and refunds for all tickets before March 31 2020, but most low-cost airlines serving France have not said the same.

So far, neither EasyJet nor Ryanair have announced any measures relating to ticket changes to or from French airports due to Covid-19 - except to Italy and Israel - despite a reported significant drop in airline travel during the virus spread.

(Photo: Aero Icarus / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

EasyJet

On its website, EasyJet says: “Flights are continuing to operate normally” and the “usual general ticket conditions continue to apply”.

On its Latest Travel Information page and Covid-19 page, EasyJet has issued a statement on Covid-19, saying: “The health and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is our highest priority. We would like to reassure customers that our existing policies and procedures are in line with the guidance provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and EASA. 

“We remain in regular contact with the authorities and will amend our procedures if and when required if guidance changes.” 

So far, only passengers travelling to Israel from Bordeaux, Geneva, Lyon, Nantes, Nice, Paris, and Toulouse are subject to restrictions imposed by the Israeli government, with the actual flights operating normally.

More details are on the EasyJet Covid-19 page.

(Photo: 

Ryanair

Ryanair has cancelled some flights to and from Italy - the worst-affected European country - but has made no statement about France.

The Ryanair website says:”Ryanair has been forced to cancel up to 25% of all Italian short haul flights for a three week period from March 17 to April 8, in response to the Covid-19 virus.”

For other flights, its help desk on Twitter has said: “For the moment Ryanair flights are operating as normal [so] all our terms, conditions and fees will apply [and] the no-cancellation and no refund policy remains.”

Ryanair has set up a page with information about Covid-19 here, but has said that if passengers have not received email or SMS notification of a cancellation and given the option to refund or rebook, then their “flight is operating as normal”.

(Photo: Transavia / @transavia / Twitter)

Transavia

Transavia - the low-cost subsidiary of Air France-KLM - has not announced any special measures due to coronavirus for flights to or from France.

Yet, it has offered options for journeys to northern Italy and Israel, “such as refunds or possible postponements until October 24”, a spokesperson said.

So far, anyone with unaffected airline tickets to or from France with Ryanair, EasyJet or Transavia will not be entitled to a refund if they wish to change or cancel their tickets, for any flight that the airline continues to run. (Different rules apply if the airline itself cancels; in this case, you are entitled to a free refund or reasonable later transfer in line with EU law.)

Refunds for plane travel are so far only guaranteed for flights to countries significantly affected by the virus, as listed by Santé Publique France: China, Singapore, Iran, South Korea and northern Italy.

Yet, with the exception of northern Italy, these destinations are not served by these airlines, so this does not apply.

At the time of writing, France has confirmed 1,412 cases, including 221 new cases today, and 30 deaths. Health minister Oliver Véran has said that the country is still at stage two of three, and is continuing to attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

In contrast, Italy has confirmed 9,172 cases and 463 deaths. Today, the whole of Italy has been put into “lockdown”, with schools and workplaces closed, restaurants on limited hours, sports and cultural events cancelled, and travel severely restricted across the country.

The global situation can be seen in real-time on this interactive world map.

Related Covid-19 updates

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