Coronavirus has thrown the holiday plans of countless Britons into chaos. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel and urging Britons abroad to come home. easyJet and British Airways are among airlines which have cancelled flights.
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Indeed, easyJet today announced it is grounding its entire fleet.
easyJet said in a statement: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.”
However, what do the cancelled flights mean for your money? Will you get refunded?
Travel expert Simon Calder issued a warning on Twitter to airline passengers over the weekend.
Calder cautioned that easyJet and BA customers are no longer able to apply for a refund online.
Instead they have to call the airlines’ contact centre.
The travel guru tweeted: “If BA or easyJet cancel your flight you are due a full refund within a week.
“But both airlines have removed the website refund option, to try to get passengers to accept a voucher instead.
“To get actual money back you must phone the airline within a year from the date of the flight.”
Express.co.uk contacted easyJet who confirmed this.
An airline spokeswoman said: “Customers on cancelled flights can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a voucher for the value of their booking online or claim a refund through our contact centre.
“We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.
“For customers whose flights are not cancelled but would like to move to a later date they can amend their flight online with no change fee and we have brought forward our winter schedule on-sale so customers have more choice to move their flights, up to 28 February 2021.”
Express.co.uk has contacted British Airways for comment.
The latest online BA update from Thursday states: “We’re working closely with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to continue flying where travel restrictions allow and we’ll do everything we can to help those of you who are affected by the changes.
“To allow greater flexibility you can change the destination, date of travel, or both without being charged a change fee, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, or receive a voucher for any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020.”
BA adds: “If your flight has been cancelled, please do not travel to the airport. There are a number of options available to you and ways to make changes to your booking.
“If you have booked via British Airways – we’ll rebook or refund you for your ticket via Manage My Booking or you can discuss rebooking options by calling us on 0800 727 800 from within the UK, or +44 (0)203 250 0145 from abroad.
“As availability of alternative flights is limited, rebooking may take some time. Call volumes are extremely high at the moment due to the unprecedented circumstances so please bear with us if it takes some time for us to help with your booking.
“If you have booked via a travel agent – please contact them directly to discuss further arrangements for your booking.
“If your flight was cancelled and you did not check in, you can request a refund at any point up to 12 months after the start date of your journey. You do not need to claim your refund before you were due to fly.”
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Airlines UK, which represents British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, TUI Airways and Virgin Atlantic, has asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) for a “refund holiday” until the coronavirus crisis is over, reported The Independent.
The airlines’ organisation said: “Carriers should also be permitted to issue vouchers instead of refunds.”
Travel association ABTA has shared advice to travellers regarding vouchers for cancelled flights.
An ABTA spokesperson said: “ABTA is advising Members that if they offer customers a refund credit, as an alternative to a cash refund or rebooking their holiday, they must do this in the right way to ensure the rights of customers to a refund are preserved.
“A Refund Credit Note will have the financial protection of the original booking, and is for a fixed period of time, so that at the end of this time the customer will have the option to either get another holiday or a cash refund.
“The use of Refund Credit Notes will help customers to get another holiday or a cash refund and they will help travel businesses, many of whom have not received money back from airlines and hotels, to keep trading.
“They will help to prevent the worst possible scenario of a customer’s travel provider going out of business and having to wait many months for a refund.”
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