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Mandatory vouchers for cancelled flights due to pandemic is against the EU law

Thousands of air travelers are sitting on their unused tickets and have to take pleasure on vouchers without right to claim for refund, even if they will never make the flight they had once booked for whatever reasons. The majority of airlines withhold reimbursement and offering credit vouchers or a free rebooking, instead. Mandatory vouchers by airlines is against the law, says the European Union.

EU rules require that travellers get a refund within seven days, but the majority of carriers are withholding reimbursements and offering travel vouchers or a free rebooking instead. So much for EU rules !

European Union Transport Commissioner Adina Valean was very clear in a statement to Greek daily avgi over the weekend.

“The law is clear. Passengers must be able to choose between refunds or other forms of compensation, such as the voucher. ”

“We cannot force consumers to pay the bill for airline liquidity problems,” the commissioner said in her statement avgi.

On European Union “Airclaim” website the issue is crystal clear about the flight cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic and the refund vs vouchers.

I want my flight ticket refunded, not a voucher – INFORMATION ABOUT TICKET REFUND

According to the law, all flight cancellations due to the Covid-19 crisis do not provide the passengers the right to receive a compensation, because the cancellation reason is an “extraordinary circumstance”.
However, no matter such circumstances, passengers still have the right to receive the ticket price back in full and within 7 days. Some airlines are acting illegally forcing passengers to accept a voucher instead.

Replacing cash refund with a flight voucher valid for a future date, travel miles, or any other form of payment is ok but fully depends on your written acceptance.

If you want cash refund and the airline sent you a rebooking voucher, but you did not sign an agreement, you can still claim money back. Do not use the voucher anyway, as it might imply your acceptance. No need to rush,  you have 2-6 years (depends on the country).

Some airlines are forcing passengers to claim to the Travel Agency that sold their ticket, and this also is against the Law.

Under Ruling CE 261/04 the “operating airline” is the one that must refund the full ticket cost (so yes, agency fees are included). Besides, booking agents are not prepared nor efficient dealing with claims, because its not their job to enforce your rights.

This is a hard time for airlines so we urge you to help them and accept the voucher if you can.

In such case, make sure that it will be valid for at least 1 year, and that you will be allowed to choose any other destination, that you can use it partially several times and  that another passenger can replace you, and mostly important, that no hidden additional costs exist.

To have your money back in cash and without agencies, you might be in a hopeless position arguing with a giant that doesn’t care about your Rights, but you can use Aireclaim’s expert service to get your money back. This is an EU company, funded by the European Union with the purpose of defending Passenger’s Rights. A fee is charged only if/after you get your money. (via European Union Airclaim)

And while some European airlines seem to comply with the directive, some other do not and still refuse to refund, internet users complain on social media.

Of course, this has to do also with the national governments that have allowed the air carriers but also other tourist transport means to reimburse their customers with 18-month credit vouchers. And so did Greece three weeks ago.

The regulation allowing Greek airlines, ferries and tourism enterprises (hotels and travel agencies) to reimburse customers with 18-month vouchers for bookings that were canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, instead of cash refunds, was published in the Government Gazette on Monday.

Meanwhile, another issue that has been emerging is that travelers eager to make the trip they have booked long ago keep changing the dates of the flight tickets thus paying every time fees of several euros.

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