Martin Lewis: Britons may be entitled to flight refunds even if journey isn’t cancelled

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, countless airlines have been forced to cancel flights. However, in some cases, certain journeys have remained scheduled to go ahead causing concern for holidaymakers who are unable to make one leg of the journey.


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Martin Lewis and the Money Saving Expert (MSE) team are on hand to help.

They point out that in many cases outbound flights have been cancelled due to border restrictions, or because the dates of journeys “straddle the likely period when travel abroad from the UK is being unlocked”.

While this means some Britons have been refunded for their departing journey, their flight home is still on, and therefore they have not been offered their money. back by the airline.

The good news is, travellers could still be entitled to a refund.

“If you’ve booked a specific return deal with the same airline and one leg is cancelled, you would expect a refund for both parts – under both EU rules and general contract law,” explains MSE.

“However some say they’re struggling to get refunds, and it may be because with some budget airlines they don’t consider it a return flight but two individual flights.”

Though there is no definitive answer as to how to claim back money, contacting the airline directly is the surest way of finding a solution.

If this does not work, Martin and his team highlight EU regulation 261/2004.

For flights into and out of the EU, or operated by a UK or EU airline, Britons can claim a refund for a return flight so long as it is under the same booking as the outbound flight.

“If they are, you should be offered a full refund on both flights,” confirms MSE.


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Unfortunately, they do point out a grey area which arises if flights have been booked using a ticket agent of a flight comparison website.

“Sadly the Civil Aviation Authority has admitted the precise definition of the same booking can be a grey area,” MSE explains.

“It says if you booked through a ticket agent and the two legs are with different airlines, it wouldn’t count as the same booking.”

The good news is, there are some backup options if a flight refund is not initially offered by the airline.


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The first would be to make an official complaint to the airline in writing or send your complaint to a dispute resolution service.

Alternatively, customers who paid using a credit or debit card claim money back using Section 75 or under the chargeback scheme.

Chargebacks work by asking the debit or credit card provider to try and get the money back from the airline. It is a process which works for Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

Meanwhile, Section 75 works for purchases over £100 and claims the money back directly from the card company.

Many credit card providers prefer to avoid this situation as they become the responsible retailer.

“I would go for chargeback first and use Section 75 if that doesn’t work,” suggests Martin.

For holidays booked prior to the coronavirus pandemic, travel insurance policies may still be valid and could offer coverage for an unusable flight.

Holidaymakers who took out a policy before March 11, 2020, should contact their travel insurer for more clarity.

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