Flights: Authorities rule airlines must issue cash refunds ASAP as backlogs mount

Flights have been axed in droves over the past few months leaving many people eager to get their money back amid these uncertain times. However, numerous Britons have been left frustrated over the struggle to getting a cash refund. Many airlines have taken much longer than is the law to refund.

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Carriers have been encouraging travellers to accept vouchers or to rebook.

Now, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has spoken up and provided an update on its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is cracking down on the airlines which are failing to provide cash refunds.

The CAA said: “We support airlines offering vouchers and rebooking alternatives where it makes sense for the consumer, but we have reiterated to airlines that they must provide cash refunds to passengers who request this where a flight has been cancelled.

“We do not expect airlines to systematically deny consumers their right to a refund, and our review is considering whether any further action needs to be taken to protect consumer rights.”

It added: “While regulations state that refunds should be paid within seven days of the request, we understand that there are operational challenges that airlines are facing in the current circumstances that make this very challenging to meet.”

All airlines the CAA contacted have said they are now paying refunds.

However, the authority has assessed which airlines’ performance requires processing time improvements.

“[These] have substantial backlogs of refund claims and which, in our view, are taking too long to process refunds,” said the CAA.  

“This group includes some major carriers with large backlogs of refund requests extending to many months.

“The Civil Aviation Authority has asked these airlines to provide commitments that they will speed up refund processing timescales.

“We have received responses from a number of airlines agreeing to this request.

“We will assess the suitability of these commitments and, should we accept them, we will monitor the airlines’ performance against them.

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“If performance does not improve in line with the commitments, the Civil Aviation Authority will not hesitate to take enforcement action.”

However, the CAA did not reveal which airlines were in this category.

Ryanair has confirmed that it expects to clear “90 per cent” of its backlogged refunds by the end of July.

A spokesperson said: “Ryanair has already processed over €500m in refunds and vouchers since the Covid crisis started in mid-March. This is over 50 per cent of Ryanair’s total backlog of Covid cancellations in March, April and May.

“We expect to clear over 90 percent of the remaining backlog of refund requests by the end of July.”

easyJet passengers should fill out the refund application form online.

TUI customers can also complete a refund request form but they will first have had to receive their refund credit note.

Meanwhile, British Airways passengers are expected to contact BA if they wish to be issued a cash refund.

As for Jet2, customers will need to wait for the airline to get in touch with further details – they’re proactively contacting all affected customers in departure date order. 

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