Between a rock and a hard place

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The media has suddenly seemed to have picked up on the fact that some airlines and tour operators are not refunding monies due to customers from cancellations.

To refund will means some airline and holiday company collapses

This story has been around for some time with Just about Travel pointing out customer rights on 6th of April

Which? seems to have been the catalyst for the create outbreak of criticism as it pointed out that people were being offered vouchers rather than cash.

Under EU261, passengers are entitled to a refund to be paid within 14 days. But here’s the rub. Some airlines and travel companies can’t afford it and will go bust if they are held to the letter of the law.

Many airlines have been asking the government to relax the law during the time of the virus so that companies can survive and that does make sense. Nobody wants to see large scale travel and tourism closures because there will be few companies to offer holidays when normalcy returns. In Australia, one major airline – Virgin Australia – has gone into administration potentially leaving Qantas/Jetset with a monopoly.

I might have more sympathy with some of the travel industry if it amended the voucher offers they are making.

Some are offering vouchers to the value of the monies paid. Surely they should be providing vouchers for a return flight/holiday instead so that the consumer will never be out of pocket? In this way the customer is likely to be more prepared to accept vouchers provided that one other change takes place.

If you alter your holiday/flight to another date then you would be covered by ATOL s your money is protected. Switch it to a voucher and you have no protection if the airline/holiday company goes bust. The easy answer is to bring vouchers – at least for the present – under the ATOL regime which gives protection to the consumer and leaves cash in the hands of the suppliers.

That leaves just one problem.

Some customers will have faced economic hardship due to the coronavirus and need a refund just for daily expenses. How should those be treated? How can you tell one who is in need from one who just wants recompense? Without a lot of red tape this cannot be easily resolved so, for the present, I think my earlier two suggestions are the only ones that can be easily implemented.

Travel companies are between a rock and a hard place. To obey the law will cripple some. Not to obey will increase customer dis-satisfaction, lose loyal customers from future bookings and possibly cause their collapse.

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