Latest Travel Updates on Refunds and Vouchers – Your Questions Answered

Latest travel updates on refunds and vouchers: Travel agents and tour operators to give government-protected credit notes instead of refunds. 

 

With extraordinary times, come extraordinary measures. The standard policies that have applied for years with regard to cancellations and refunds are no longer being used in the travel industry. Some argue that airlines and travel companies are breaking the law, and while this may be somewhat true, there is no doubt that some of the laws and regulations, such as EU 261, were not designed to be used in these times.

travel updates on vouchers and refunds
 
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The Irish Travel Agents Association along with various travel agencies have been lobbying to change the current policies, to make them more adaptable to our current circumstances. On May 8th the Irish government backed a new refund credit note that can be used by travel agents and tour operators to give to customers instead of a refund – note this is not applicable to airlines.
 

 

 
These credit notes will be guaranteed by the state in the event that the travel agent or tour operator ceases trading. It will be issued with a future redeemable date (6 months at present), and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash, or can be used to book another holiday. According to Shane Ross, ‘ the refund credit note aims to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy (with associated immediate job losses) and consumer rights.’
 

 

 
I have been inundated with questions from many people who have had their holidays cancelled, or have future holidays booked and are unsure of their rights or what they should do. I have outlined my most common questions below, hopefully your own situation is among them – if not, let me know by commenting under the post and I will endeavour to get an answer for you. 
 

 

 

I am booked to fly with Ryanair but received no correspondence from them, and I am not sure if my flight is operating.

travel updates re vouchers and refunds

Ryanair have announced that they are grounding most of their fleet in May and June. With the exception of a few flights which are still confirmed as operating until 20th June (see here), it is likely that most of their flights will be cancelled.
 

 

 

Ryanair will contact you by email outlining your options, which will mention changing your flight, or offering a voucher, rather than applying for a refund. You won’t have to pay a change fee, but you will pay the difference in airfare, if there is one. Once your flight has been cancelled, you can apply for a refund or voucher – but you need to wait until closer to the departure date to see if your flight is cancelled – this may not happen until seven days prior to departure.
 

 

I have been offered a voucher from Ryanair but want a refund – what can I do?

 
Ryanair are now asking you to accept vouchers instead of refunds – even if you have applied for a refund already.  These emails are being sent individually so if you have not received it yet, it should come in due course. They have stated that they will not be processing refunds until after the Covid-19 emergency has passed.

They recommend you take their voucher, which is valid for a year from issue date and can be exchanged for cash after a year if unused during that time. However, if you still want to apply for a refund, you can do this by using this link  – bear in mind this may take months to process. If you are having difficulty applying via the link (many are), you can message them on Facebook – I have been told my customers that they are engaging this way now.

 

 

 

If you are not happy with this arrangement you make a complaint to the Commission of Aviation regulation and they will take up the case with Ryanair on your behalf. You will need to prove that you applied for a refund and are being offered a voucher instead. Listen to our exclusive interview with Air Passenger Rights Manager Sarah Fischer, she tells us how to get a refund if your flight is cancelled.
 

 


 

 

 

Latest statement from Ryanair, 6th May 2020

  • The processing time for cash refunds is taking far longer than normal as we are processing over 1,000 times the normal volume of cancellations. We also have 75% fewer staff available to process refunds due to social distancing restrictions.
  • Ryanair is offering vouchers and free moves as these are automated and give customers an immediate alternative. Unfortunately, cash refunds cannot be automated. Customers who choose a voucher, but don’t redeem it within 12 months may still apply for and obtain a refund after this 12 month period.
  • Customers who choose not to accept a free move or voucher will receive their refund in due course, once this crisis has passed. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be working hard to process refund requests as quickly as we can. 
  • We sincerely apologise for these unavoidable refund delays which are due to the unprecedented volume of Govt. imposed flight cancellations and we sincerely thank customers for their patience.

 

 

 

I am due to fly with Aer Lingus in May or June, can I get a refund?

If your flight is cancelled you can accept a voucher for 110% off the full cost of your fare, or apply for a refund using this form. You may not find this link on your email asking you to avail of the voucher, but if your flight has been cancelled, you can apply for a refund in this way.
 

 

 
Note in many cases the flight will not be cancelled until seven days prior to departure. Once you accept the voucher, you cannot then apply for the refund. If you want a refund you will need to wait until closer to your departure date, see if the flight is cancelled and apply for a refund at that stage. 

Apply for Aer Lingus refund here
 

 

 

How long is my Aer Lingus Voucher valid for and are there any Ts&Cs I should be aware of?

The good news is that Aer Lingus vouchers are valid for five years, and can be spread out to for use on multiple trips. You will get the full value of your flight ticket, including seat selection, priority boarding etc, plus an additional 10% bonus. At present they are only waiving change fees on bookings up to 30th September, and offering vouchers to customers who are due to travel before 30th June – this may be extended. However, once you accept the voucher, you cannot subsequently apply for a refund if your flight is cancelled at a later date. Note: vouchers are given to the lead passenger on the booking but do not have to be used solely by the lead passenger.
 
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I am due to fly with in May or June and my flight is still operating.

travel updates due to coronavirus

Aer Lingus are still operating flights to some European and UK airports, as well as Boston, Chicago and New York. Ryanair have listed flights that are still operating (see here) until 20th June. Many other airlines are also operating limited schedules.
 

 

 
If you are booked on one of these flights, your only option is to change dates, accept a voucher if offered, or claim through your travel insurance. Note travel insurance will only reimburse you if you have government advisory or travel disruption cover included in your policy. You will also need to prove that no refund is available from your airline / hotel.

 

Read: Coronavirus: What travel insurance covers
 

 

 

I have booked a FLIGHT via a travel agency and they are not engaging with me. 

EU regulation 261 specifically states that any flight contract is between the passenger and the airline. You do not need to go via your travel agent to request a refund. You can contact your airline directly, and if they will not engage with you, or will not offer you a refund, you can make a complaint to the Commission of Aviation regulation, and they will take up the case on your behalf.  Note: You will need to prove that you have tried to seek a refund from your airline and they are refusing to deal with you. Note EU-261 only applies to the flight contract, not hotel costs, transfers etc. 
 

 

 

I am booked to travel with TUI in June and and have not received any correspondence from them.

TUI have cancelled all holidays up to and including 11th June – personally I see this being extended by another month, at least. They will allow you to change your holiday, or any holiday departing before 31st of July free of charge. They have asked that customers do not contact them unless it is urgent and have stated that they will be in touch with you to discuss your options. You can choose to change to later in 2020 or 2021 but the difference in fare / holiday will apply.  You can alternatively apply for refund if your holiday is cancelled.

 

 

 

I am travelling June or July and want to cancel. 

op 10 Holiday Deals In May & June

The current government advice is against non-essential travel, with 14 day self isolation required when you return into Ireland. While I assume this advice will be amended in July, I can not understand how we are ‘allowed’ travel abroad, yet not travel within Ireland until the 20th of July. This is something that we urgently need clarification on from government.
 

 

 
However, as it stands currently (21st May), if you do you wish to travel, but the flights are operating, you are not entitled to a refund. You should be able to change your travel dates, but if you cancel because you do not want to fly, that is seen as your own personal decision.

If the government advice is still in place against non-essential travel, then you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. You will need to have had a policy taken out with travel disruption cover or government advice, before the advice came into effect.  

 Read: 5 things to consider before we can travel again
 

 

 

I am due to travel in July or August and am unsure whether to pay the balance of my holiday.

family holidays in Greece

Despite most booking conditions stating that balances are due 10 weeks before departure, few travel companies are adhering to this rule. Most tour operators and travel agencies have adapted flexible policies and few are actively chasing balance payments. I have not heard of any bookings being cancelled due to lack of payment…

However, if you do not pay your balance by the due date, you are technically breaking your contract. It is important to keep in close contact with your agent, advise them of your position and try to wait to see if the flights are cancelled closer to the departure time. 
 

For more information on passenger rights visit Flightrights.ie
 

 

 
Stay safe.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

29 Comments

  • My holiday company is offering to let me change my holiday plans to later in the year or even next year with the full deposit moving to the new holiday but this wont include the cost of upgraded flights for which I paid £1175 and I will lose this money. Are they able to do this?

    • I would have thought they would have to refund or give you credit / voucher for the full amount of the holiday but I see the price is in sterling, different rules apply to UK. It might be worth checking with ABTA. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hi Sarah,
    We’re due to take Irish Ferries to France on 14th June. We’re meant to be staying at a mobile home park in Brittany for ten days.
    We’ve paid deposits on both as we booked them separately, not as a package.
    It’s my understanding that the ship will sail anyway, but if the camp site isn’t opening or the Irish government guidelines tell us not to travel, what’s the position?

    • Irish Ferries will allow you to change dates but yes as most sailings are operating they are not offering refunds. All hotels / campsites have different rules with regards to refunds but my experience is that most are only allowing changes or credit. If you have travel insurance with travel disruption cover or government advisory included you may be able to claim from them. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hi Sarah,
    My niece has booked a holiday with Expedia for end of June to Amsterdam. She’s a leaving cert student and now the exams have been moved she will have to cancel. Do you know if she’ll be entitled to a refund or voucher? Thanks in advance, Louise

    • Hi Louise

      There has been no decision made for June yet so you will need to wait to see if there is a travel advisory in place nearer the time. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hi we ae a family of 5 due to travel to majorca july 3 2020 for 8 days our flights are with Aer Lingus.
    When I booked the flights i did so ensuring that both leaving cert n junior cert were finished. Now with the announcement by the education dept if the flights are running we wont be able to go as our eldest daughter will be in school waiting to do her leaving cert.
    Because of this do you think we will be entitled to a refund or voucher which we could use next year Thanks Anne

    • Hi Anne, Im sure it is only a matter of time before Aer Lingus allow changes to later dates ( at the moment it is just until the 31st of May). You will need to hang in there and see what happens closer to the time. I don’t think they will take the leaving certificate into account, however they may allow changes anyway due to Covid-19. There is also a possibility that Spain will not be accepting tourists in early July too, in which case the flight may be cancelled. We just have to wait and see what happens. Cheers, Sarah.

    • Hi Sarah, We have a family holiday to Spain booked for august 8th. We only booked our flights with Ryanair, can we apply for a refund or do we need to wait until they decide if they are going ahead with flights. Do you think there is a chance we still will be able to go in August?

      • Hi Lorna

        Unfortunately you will have to wait and see if the flights are still operating and I suspect it will be a few months before we know. At the moment Ryanair are only allowing changes until the end of May, so hang on and see what happens closer to the time. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hi. I’m due to travel to Spain in August. I have booked through a travel agent. When booking I decided to pay the full amount as I had the money then. What happens if it is cancelled.
    Thanks.

    • If the holiday is cancelled you should receive a refund or a voucher to use against future travel. Best to check with your agency to see what they are offering. You could opt to cancel now, loose your deposit and be refunded the balance. Alternatively hold off and see what happens. It is difficult to say whether we will be back travelling in August at the moment. Cheers, Sarah

  • Also forgot to mention, I was paying monthly so have final payment to to make. If flights are not cancelled, I wouldnt be comfortable travelling anyway so would prefer to hold out for a refund/voucher. Thanks Sarah

    • Hi Tracy,

      I doubt that holidays will be operating in early June. Im sure you will be offered a refund or a voucher closer to the time. Cheers, Sarah

  • I booked my holiday with Tui and was supposed to go on the 25th of march for two weeks but it was cancelled and I asked for a refund nearly 4 weeks ago I was told I would get it but nothing yet I am looking at your posts about they are giving vouchers only were do I stand here as its nearly impossible to speak with someone.

    • Hi Rudy

      If you were told you were getting a refund I am sure they will have to honour this. I expect them to contact you soon but you could try calling or messaging them on social media to confirm. Cheers, Sarah

    • Hi sarah We r due to fly to turkey on 31st may with aerlingus.will we wait to hear from them r is 31st may included date for no operation with them

  • I booked flights through edreams they are impossible to reach and are now saying airlines are offering vouchers and maybe will not get back full amount can you advise please

    • Hi Michelle, yes most companies are offering vouchers instead of refunds, I would not expect Edreams to offer refunds. Edreams are not an Irish company so I have no dealings with them unfortunately. Best of luck, Sarah

  • I received the following from Ryanair. We don’t want to re book we want a refund as our holiday have been cancelled.

    Dear Customer,

    The spread of the Covid-19 Virus and associated Government travel restrictions, continues to have a negative impact on the schedules of all Ryanair Group Airlines.

    As a result of this we want to offer our customers as much flexibility as possible in relation to their scheduled travel plans. We are now offering you the following options in relation to your booked flight.

    · You can change your flight to any date in the next 3 months, up to Aug 31 2020.
    · The flight change fee will be waived in full.
    · You will only have to pay the difference in fare.
    · This flight date change will only apply to the route you have already booked.
    · Please do not try to change to another date in May.

    We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this unprecedented crisis. The safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority, and we are working closely with the state authorities and we will follow any travel restrictions that are imposed and will continue to comply with all WHO and EASA guidelines to combat the Covid-19 virus.

    To change your travel date, click on My Bookings below.

    Best regards,
    Customer Service

    • HI Marianne,

      Has your flight been cancelled? If you looked up your booking online and it is cancelled you can apply for refund using the link I have in the post. If not, you will have to wait to see if your flight is cancelled before applying for a refund. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hello Kim,

    I’m booked flight to America for 3 people with American Airlines. I don’t have travel insurance. Do you know what is there policy with regards to refunds. If I get a voucher from them is it valid for 1 year.
    Thanks,
    Eva

    • Hi Eva, the American government announced that airlines should offer refunds and not vouchers, on Monday. United Airlines announced that they are now giving refunds now so maybe wait and see if American Airlines follow suit. Cheers, Sarah

  • Hi Sarah, I have booked a city break to Lisbon through Loveholidays.ie, Hotel & flights, due to fly 22nd April. Loveholidays are currently only dealing with people due to fly within the next 7 days which I understand. Ryanair have emailed me separately, do I wait to get a credit voucher for the full amount from Loveholidays or deal with Ryanair? Thanks in advance, Dee

    • Hi Dee, Im surprised that Ryanair have emailed you, this must mean that Love Holidays have given them your email address to deal directly. In that case I would appy for a refund from Ryanair – assuming your flight is cancelled.

  • I have a holiday booked in Duinrell for July but have decided to cancel well within the 90 day policy (15% loss) but they have since changed their policy to credit only, after I requested refund. Any idea where I stand please as we are not in the position to plan a holiday for next year

    • Hi Kim,

      Yes most companies are offering vouchers only – this is being accepted by over 10 countries in Europe and Ireland is expected to follow suit. Did you pay the full amount or just the deposit? If you paid the full amount you should be able to request the 85% back as a refund, I would continue to press this. However, in these times standard booking conditions are not being adhered to.

    • Hi Sarah, we have a family holiday booked for early June to portugal. I booked the accommodation with love holidays & flights with aer lingus. Love holidays are only dealing with people travelling 7 days in advance which I understand but its alot of money & have no idea what to do?

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