Please note that the information below is only applicable if your flight has been cancelled by the airline.
1. Are customers that have yet to travel from the UK entitled to a refund?
If they’ve booked a package holiday, and their outbound flight can’t be re-arranged until at least a significant time after (the normal rule of thumb is 12 hours), they’re entitled to be offered a refund by their tour operator. This is a refund of the full package price, not just the flight element.
2. What if they’re not travelling on a package holiday?
If they’ve booked flight and accommodation separately, they can get their money back for the flight. The airline, under the Denied Boarding Regulations, must offer the choice of a refund of the ticket price, or re-routing at the earliest opportunity. The customer might not be able to have a refund for their accommodation costs; this would be down to the accommodation supplier. The customer should also check their travel insurance policy.
3. What’s the position in terms of customers that haven’t been able to fly home?
Customers on package holidays will be provided with replacement transport home when possible, by their tour operator. Customers that have booked with airlines will be provided with replacement transport home when available, by their airline.
Tour operators have an obligation to provide prompt assistance to their customers. In particular, they should liaise with the air carrier to ensure that the customers’ rights under the Denied Boarding Regulations are met by the carrier (see 4 below). Other assistance should be provided by the tour operator in accordance with their terms and conditions and contractual customer welfare policy.
4. Is the obligation on the airline?
Airlines, if they’re an EU airline, or any airline if the flight is departing from an EU country, are obliged to offer customers a replacement flight at the earliest opportunity, or a refund of the part of the journey not made. If the customer chooses the replacement flight and it’s going the next day or later, the airline is obliged to provide accommodation and meals. This comes from the Denied Boarding Regulations. Customers are in theory supposed to check-in at the airport for this obligation to apply, but in practice they are being told not to go to the airport. The best advice is that they should reserve their rights by contacting the airline, probably by email or through their website, to explain that they’re unable to check in but they will expect the airline to fulfil its obligation and cover the additional costs. They should keep a copy of this communication, and of receipts for accommodation and meal expenditure.
Non-EU airlines, flying in from a non-EU country, don’t have this obligation. They should be asked whether they will voluntarily provide assistance as part of a customer service policy.