The chaos of 2020 with the airlines begins to be resolved. A year and a half after the Covid-19 paralyze the world, the European Commission and 16 companies have reached an agreement to solve
problems with flights canceled due to the pandemic, and to improve their claims systems for the future. These are Aegean Airlines, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP, Vueling and Wizz Air.
“Sixteen major airlines have committed to improving information and reimbursing passengers on time in the event of flight cancellations,” the Commission reported. “In the initial phase of the pandemic, some airlines sent coupons to passengers. They were acting against EU consumer protection rules, which was unacceptable. ‘said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.
The commitments acquired are the following:
In the vast majority of cases, delays in refunds have been eliminated and the money will be refunded to passengers within 7 days, as required by EU law; passengers will be more clearly informed about their rights; the airlines will give equal importance on their websites, emails and other communications to passengers to the different options that the passenger has in the event of a flight cancellation; flight cancellations by the airline will be clearly distinguished from flight cancellations by the passenger; Passengers can receive redeemable vouchers only if they expressly choose them; unused vouchers for flights canceled by Covid can be reimbursed in money.
What does the agreement imply?
Almudena Velázquez, corporate legal director of Reclamador.es, explains that “It is true that companies put many obstacles to obtain cash reimbursement” and that in some cases they have reached the judicial route.
Now, however, everything should change in the airline industry. Claims will not be as cumbersome as before: «They have to provide on their website the fact that a refund is requested. Now what is being said is that only and exclusively a voucher exchangeable for another flight will be provided when the consumer so decides. For that, on their website they will have to be much more accessible in terms of the return of the money».
He gives an example of ‘malpractice’ what happened with some airlines in the worst of the pandemic. “When people went to the claim forms, they found that there was de facto the possibility of requesting the bonus or the refund. But it happened, for example with Ryanair, that when you asked for the reimbursement the web would be hung up », says Velázquez.
However, this Reclamador.es expert recalls that this is only “an agreement of good intentions”, which does not necessarily bind the airlines. That is why it does not end up trusting that the airlines will comply with all reimbursements, although both national authorities and the European Commission will be in charge of monitoring all this.