16 major EU airlines refund over 500,000 flight vouchers for flights canceled during the COVID pandemic
Sixteen major European airlines have confirmed they have refunded more than 500,000 flight vouchers they imposed on consumers for flights canceled during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Commission of the European Union, the reimbursement of the vouchers is the result of the dialogue with the Consumer Protection Network carried out in 2021 to deal with the consequences of flight cancellations in the early stages of the pandemic.
“Following dialogues with the Commission and national consumer protection authorities in 2021, 16 major airlines have made ambitious commitments to bring their practices back into line with EU legislation on consumer and passenger rights with regard to concerns flight cancellations”, reads the Commission statement.
The commitments came after the Commission and national consumer authorities called on airlines to improve the way they handle cancellations amid the COVID pandemic, reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The 16 airlines engaged in measures to bring their practices into line with European legislation on consumer and passenger rights are Air France, Aegean Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Alitalia, British Airways, EasyJet, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Iberia , KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP, Vueling and Wizz Air.
The commitments made by these airlines include the elimination of reimbursement arrears and the prompt reimbursement of passengers; provide consumers with the option to redeem for cash in all cases where consumers have no choice but to accept vouchers; and better inform consumers of their cancellation rights.
“The information provided by the airlines shows that the airlines quickly changed their practices in line with their commitments and that the problems are only encountered in a limited number of complex cases”, Commission said.
The Commission explains that airlines’ reports on the implementation of the commitments show that they have eliminated the bulk of refund backlogs and adapted their emails, websites and other forms of communication to better inform consumers of their rights when a flight is cancelled.
Additionally, the airlines reached out to more than 2.5 million consumers holding unused vouchers pushed to them, giving them the opportunity to redeem the vouchers. Of the 2.5 million consumers in total, more than 500,000 of them were able to take advantage of this opportunity and get reimbursed.
The implementation of the commitments by the airlines was welcomed by the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders. However, he called on airlines to continue these efforts, especially now that travelers are experiencing numerous delays and cancellations.
Reynders said EU authorities would follow up and verify how passengers will be reimbursed to ensure diligent and strict enforcement of EU rules.