Law means nothing to cash strapped airlines

All around the world airlines are coming up with every excuse in the book to avoid paying customers back for tickets they can never use.

Airlines have resorted to all sorts of tricks and deceptions, while some have done their best to explain and offer viable alternatives to full refunds. But few if any are offering what many of their customers want.

While millions face loss of income, and have urgent need for the cash they paid out for tickets and holidays they’ll never be able to use, mostly because they don’t know if they’ll even have a job in a few weeks time, airlines are steadfastly refusing to give them their money back.

Tricks such as BA’s deletion from its website of the form to claim a refund, replaced by a phone number that never gets answered or is placed in a queueing system that goes on for hours, then gets cut off, deliberately to dissuade all but the most persistent customer, are typical.

Even if you do get an offer it will be for a credit, and many are even refusing to include extras you might have booked. For example you book extra legroom seats and pay for them, all you’ll get is the economy seat credit. The extra legroom is considered non-transferable!

And little can be done. The scale of their duplicitous behaviour is so great and governments have so much on their plate right now, few if any are doing more than saying what we know, it’s the law you have to pay them back! And the airlines largely continue to refuse to do so, while swallowing huge tax payer funded subsidies and bailouts.

On the other side of the coin for airlines many of them just don’t have the money to pay back so much cash. Few people outside of the industry or knowledgeable enthusiasts appreciate that airlines, when they sell you a ticket in January in the sales are, selling you a promise to fly you in September. The money you paid them in most countries is consumed within 30 days, in Europe and the UK, the law requires that to be 45 days – and the airlines fought a quiet battle they lost to thwart that change.

So what can you do? That depends on the airline. The level of ‘generosity’ displayed by the airline varies enormously.

Those who want your business again, especially if you’re a valued frequent flyer, will do the most for you. Two year fully transferable tickets for any date you want are the best most will do.

Exceptions – and Finnair were one of them, are they simply give you your money back.

Some of the more ingenious offers include 125% value – namely if you keep the booking, they’ll give you 125% of the value to use anytime in two years.

But others, and sadly these are by far the majority, simply find anyway they can to give you nothing at all, or at best the very basic voucher value of your flight to use in a year. And if the ticket costs more at the time, you have to pay up for the extra. Even if you do get an agreement for a refund, the chances are it will take weeks to process, and it has to go back to the card you paid from.

Airlines have for the most part done themselves a poor service, but they’ll get round it one way or another. Their survival to them matters far more than yours.