How to get a refund for your cancelled flight?

Are you due money back from a cancelled flight? Trying to get a refund could be a difficult task, even more during this pandemic.

This blog answers the most frequently asked questions about a flight refund. When are you entitled to a refund? Where should you request a refund? What should you do if they don't issue your refund?

Table of Contents

Know your rights

If your flight is cancelled by the airline then you can claim a full refund under consumer law. This applies also for non- refundable tickets. In the event of a flight cancellation, airlines should allow passengers to cancel their booking and receive a full refund without question within 7 days.

Airlines may offer a credit refund note or a voucher instead of a refund. You are under no obligation to accept either. Any credit refund note issued must have the original booking details attached to it. Vouchers are regarded as compensation and do not have the same type of protection as credit notes. They are simply a way for the airline to retain the money and provide an alternate service at a later date when the voucher is redeemed.

In the event of significant schedule changes or delays to your flight then you may also be entitled to a refund but the key word here being ‘significant.’ It is wise to check the Terms & Conditions attached to your booking in this respect.

If your flight booking was made through a travel agency, you will need to contact the agent to obtain a refund before contacting the airline. The same rights under consumer law are applicable.

Please note that disinclination to travel is not a valid reason for a refund.

Country specific information on aviation consumer protection and your rights is readily available on official government websites.

Contact your credit card provider or bank

If no refund is forthcoming then consider how you paid for your flight(s) and make a claim to your credit card provider or bank accordingly to receive a refund for the promised service.

Any purchase protection claims must be made within a specific filing window after the transaction processing date. Time limits for processing may vary.

File a consumer complaint

If you experience issues obtaining a refund for a cancelled flight then you may need to file an official consumer complaint with the airline. A well-constructed complaint can save you time and money so is well worth the effort.

Stick to the facts and be clear and concise in the points you make. Compile a list of all evidence including telephone calls, references, dates and times in relation to your booking to support your complaint. If applicable, make a record of what you agreed, when, where and with whom.

The most effective complaints are made in writing so if you make any initial calls then always follow up the complaint by email or letter. Summarise the issue in bullet points at the end of your letter and state what action you expect in order to be able to rectify the problem. Give a clear time response time for a reply.

To increase the chance of a refund, it can help to get some public attention for your complaint. We can help you with this. Report your complaint via our complaint form, and do not forget to mention this in your complaint letter to the airline.

Consider the use of dispute resolution services

Before commencing any kind of court action for unpaid flight refunds, it’s worth considering alternate means of resolving your dispute with the airline. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes or dispute resolution services exist for consumer protection. A neutral third party will work with both parties to agree a settlement and avoid litigation. ADR is less formal and costly than a court process and resolution can be achieved in the form of adjudication, facilitation, mediation or arbitration.

For aviation disputes in the UK there are two approved ADR schemes in the aviation sector i) AviationADR and ii) CEDR. You can find out which airlines are a member of ADR here.

Escalate your complaint to the small claims court

If all else fails, you may need to consider taking your case to the small claims court. A final letter before action will be required before you can do so as you will need to demonstrate that you have given the company ample opportunities to address the problem before escalating it in this way. Ensure you thoroughly check what you are able to claim for before filing your case and take legal advice if necessary.

Lady Janey

Lady Janey

Queen of Customer Service, Travel Expert, Radio Presenter & Author showcasing the best companies and challenging the worst!

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