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What to do if your flight was cancelled due to COVID-19

By LLM Reporters on 20th May 2020

Swimming in the lush waters of the Maldives, exploring the delights of a far-flung city or basking in the Bali sun may have been what you had hoped to be doing this spring and summer, but a certain wide spread health crisis has put a stop to those plans.

While we wait it out, sit back, take a breath and patiently wait for those glorious holidays to be a likely prospect once again, there is an ever-burning question that many of us have in the back of our minds – what is happening to the money we’ve already paid out?

While you will have received notification in the form of an email from your airline or travel company regarding your cancelled flight, it seems that many aren’t forthcoming in actually handing your money back to you and with reports on job cuts within airlines, it makes it all the more worrying as to whether you will even see your hard-earned cash again.

Airport terminal departures board showing cancelled flights because of strike. Business travel unforeseen concept 3d rendering.

Travellers from all over the world have been left scrambling trying to receive compensation from cancelled flights with airlines seemingly writing their own rule books on how to deal with refunds, but it is important to understand that you are well within your rights to a refund, though it may not be all that easy to actually your money back. To help you understand a little more about the situation and how to get a refund, if you need one, below are a few things to keep in mind.

What are the rules?

According to the Civil Aviation Authority you are entitled to choose between a refund for a cancelled flight or an alternative flight, this depends on where the flight was taking off from and landing as to whether it is covered by EU law. The U.S Department of Transportation also states that passengers are entitled to a refund for a cancelled flight and that this should be paid back within seven business days by card or 20 if paid by cash or check.

The CAA has recently stated (15th May) that “it is important that consumers are given a clear option to request a cash refund without unnecessary barriers.” And that they “expect airlines to provide refunds for cancelled flights as soon as practically possible, whilst appreciating there are operational challenges for airlines in the current circumstances.”

private business jet parked at the airport with copyspace

Wait for an official cancellation

If your goal is to get a full cash refund, it is imperative that you do not make any changes to your travel itinerary right away. Instead, the better approach is to wait it out and see if the airline will cancel the flight. You will be in a much better position to receive a full refund if the airline cancels the flight for you. Proactively asking for a cash refund before a cancellation does not give you as much negotiating leverage.

Avoid credit offers

If receiving a full cash refund is your objective, you need to be wary of accepting any credit or travel vouchers. This applies even if the airline is insisting that they will not issue a full refund. Your negotiating power is negated if you accept a new itinerary or a credit to your account for future use. Once this offer has been accepted on your end, the airline is not under any legal obligation to give you money back.

Understanding a bonus

Some airlines are now offering bonus credits to your travel account if you willingly change flights or accept a standard credit. This bonus is generally a flat amount or a percentage of rewards on a designated travel credit card. Before you accept this offer, it is important that you understand all of the details such as the expiration period. This may be a good deal if you travel often and will use the bonus but if you’re looking for any compensation due to the inconvenience, it’s best for you to avoid this.

Travel tourist standing with luggage watching sunset at airport window. Unrecognizable woman looking at lounge looking at airplanes while waiting at boarding gate before departure. Travel lifestyle.

Protect yourself

Rather than leave your refund up to chance, you can choose to protect yourself through the use of a third-party service designed to provide flight refunds back to you with little hassle. A professional service will ensure that you receive that compensation that you are entitled to receive as a result of your trip disruption on top of refunded ticket value. While you can never guarantee that life will not throw you a curve-ball with your travel plans, you can take steps to make sure that your finances are protected in case of cancellations.

There is no doubt that navigating travel cancellations due to COVID-19 is truly challenging. However, arming yourself with the right tools and information can go a long way in ensuring that you receive any compensation that is due back to you.