Can I book a flight for my vacation despite the coronavirus crisis?


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Uncertainty remains for the summer due to the coronavirus crisis as the date on which international air restrictions will end is still unknown. Despite this, some airlines already sell tickets for the beginning of summer with the forecast that the borders will be opened in the coming weeks. Within the European Union, yesterday the Commission approved a program to define safe corridors between countries with similar contagion situations and within un three-phase plan that serves to revive tourism, a sector that represents up to 10% of GDP in the EU.

In this line, in a first phase, mobility would be restricted and borders would be opened to move between countries for leisure reasons and with similar situations based on a list of states and degrees of de-escalation drawn up by the Agency for Disease Control from Europe (ECDC). Later, movements between countries would be allowed in the same phase but always avoiding crossing land transportation to other countries that were not aligned in the same epidemiological situation. The third and final phase would entail a return to normality and the restoration of the Schengen area.

For now, each airline or group has set a certain date to resume operations. For example, IAG will resume some of its flights in July, although operational capacity will be "minimal", as advanced CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), Willie Walsh. For its part, Ryanair announced this week that it plans to resume 40% of its regular flights from July 1 with almost 1,000 daily operations. Others, such as KML, have the objective already this May of reestablishing flights within their European network, including travel between Madrid and Barcelona.

Due to the lack of clear dates and the unknown of when it will be possible to change the setting, the legal co-director of reclamador.es, Almudena Velázquez, recommends «Prudence» when booking our next vacation. "The uncertainty for summer travel today is very high and little is known about whether or not it will be possible to travel this summer, and if the answer is yes, under what conditions or with what restrictions," says Velázquez.

"If by then movement restrictions or border closings are maintained and airlines are unable to return to business, airlines will be forced to cancel their flights and therefore either refund money to their passengers or offer a voucher for the same amount of the purchased ticket, being the consumer who chooses which option he prefers », explains Velázquez.

Ticket refund

Last Monday, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, officially confirmed something that many users have been denouncing on social networks for weeks, highlighting that There are 700,000 pending complaints from consumers who have not been refunded the amount paid for their flights., according to data from the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA). To remedy this situation and anticipate an avalanche of claims -also directed to other sectors- Garzón advanced that he is working on enable an 'out-of-court mechanism' to make it easier for airlines to refund money for flights canceled during the coronavirus crisis. "We tell the airlines that they have to return the money because we are talking about a paid contract, but that it does not have the provision of the service," said the head of Consumption.

Precisely, the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said yesterday that countries that do not comply with European regulations and do not facilitate cash refunds will be issued. Despite this, the commissioner advises that the coupons be accepted to alleviate the liquidity situation that the airlines are going through at the moment.

From reclamador.es relate that many Spanish passengers are not finding answers from the airline with which they bought a ticket or that the money is not returned if they have requested it. «At reclamador.es we have met numerous travelers who tell us the difficulty they have in getting a refund for their plane ticket canceled due to the coronavirus. Since the beginning of this stage, we have handled more than 2,500 claims for reimbursement of canceled flights, "confirms Velázquez.

“Among the most common problems that air passengers in this situation faced, and still face, we find that airlines only offer their customers the voucher - to use in the following months, but not the refund your money. Another problem that we have detected in reclamador.es has to do with travelers who were offered the possibility of choosing between voucher or refund (as established by current regulations), but when requesting their refund they do not get a response from the airline »Adds the co-founder of the portal.

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