Ryanair flights have been grounded during the coronavirus crisis, as have easyJet, BA and Jet2 flights. The mass cancellations have left many frustrated passengers out of pocket. According to new research, a whopping eight in 10 Ryanair customers are still waiting for refunds.
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Consumer site Which? surveyed nearly 2,800 airline customers who have had flights cancelled since mid-March as a result of the global pandemic.
Of those, over 1,600 people told Which? they asked their airline for a cash refund.
Between Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways and Jet2 – Ryanair was found to still owe the most customers money.
Eighty-four per cent of Ryanair passengers who asked for a refund told Which? they have still not received their money back.
Only five per cent of Ryanair customers surveyed said they had their money returned to them within seven days – the time frame that EU carriers are legally obliged to process refunds within.
Just one in six Ryanair customers have received a refund at all.
Ryanair has made “numerous changes to its approach to refunds confusing customers of their options,” claimed Which?
“Despite initially telling customers it was processing refunds at the beginning of the crisis, customers reported that Ryanair provided refund forms that didn’t work, before attempting to force vouchers on passengers who had specifically requested refunds.
“It also repeatedly changed the timeframe for receiving a refund, suggesting at one point customers may have to wait up to 12 months for their money back.”
When approached for comment, a Ryanair spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “For any cancelled flight, Ryanair is giving customers all of the options set out under EU regulations, including free moves and refunds in the form of cash or vouchers.
“The process time for cash refunds is taking longer due to the fact we are having to process 10,000 times the usual volume of cancellations and have fewer staff available due to social distancing measures.
“Ryanair is offering vouchers and free moves as these are automated and would give customers an alternative. Customers who choose a voucher but don’t redeem it within 12 months may still apply for and obtain a refund after this 12 month period. This also includes partial redemption, as the portion of the unused voucher will be refunded.
“Customers who choose not to accept a free move or voucher will be refunded in due course, once this unprecedented crisis is over.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and we thank our customers for bearing with us”.
easyJet customers also reported finding it difficult to get a refund, according to Which? The research showed that just one in seven easyJet customers received a refund within seven days, and around 63 percent are still waiting for their money back.
A easyJet spokesman told Express.co.uk: “Customers on cancelled flights can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a voucher for the value of their booking online.
“Customers may also request a refund by submitting a claim in writing via a dedicated refund webform, online. We are processing refunds for customers and aim to so in less than 28 days.”
In contrast, a quarter of British Airways customers and one in five Jet2 customers are still waiting for their money back, with 39 percent of BA customers receiving their money back within the legal time frame, and 29 percent of Jet2 customers refunded within the seven-day window.
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A BA spokesman told Express.co.uk: “If a customer’s flight has been cancelled, they should call us to discuss their options. They can rebook, refund or choose to take a voucher to fly at a later date. Refunds can be requested at any point up to 12 months after the start date of the journey.”
A Jet2 spokesperson said: “In view of the ongoing travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to recommence our flights and holidays programme on July 1st.
“The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is our absolute priority, and we are continuing to monitor the situation very closely.
“Like all other airlines and tour operators, the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted us.
“With aircraft grounded, our focus has been on looking after the many thousands of customers whose flights and holidays have been affected, and we are very proud to have been repeatedly praised by customers, media outlets, industry commentators and consumer organisations for how we have been treating customers in response to the pandemic.
“We are continuing to operate a fully staffed call centre, and even though our teams are subject to the same difficulties and restrictions as everyone else, they are working tirelessly to proactively contact customers in departure date order to discuss their options.
“We believe that contacting customers in departure date order is the fairest way to deal with this, and the feedback we have received tells us this has been the right thing to do.
“We understand that these unprecedented events have had a huge impact on our customers, and we would like to thank them for their loyalty, understanding and patience.”
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said of their findings: “We have heard from thousands of frustrated passengers who have told us they are finding it almost impossible to get refunds they are legally entitled to from airlines, with some having waited months now without a penny returned to them.
“Some airlines are doing much better than others at refunding their customers, proving that while these are indeed difficult times for the industry, withholding customers’ money from them is simply inexcusable.
“The regulator and government cannot sit on their hands any longer. The CAA must urgently hold airlines that are brazenly breaking the law to account, and the government must set out how it will support the industry where necessary if airlines are unable to refund their customers without fear of going under.”
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