A new survey by consumer group Which? estimates that 2.3 million people in the UK have not received a refund for flights they were unable to take during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Note this is different to cases were flights were cancelled, for which customers should be entitled to refunds. The Which? survey spoke to customers who were unable to travel on flights which did operate.
Which? surveyed 2,001 adults, weighted to represent the UK population, with just under half of those questioned stating that they had been unable to take their flight(s) “because of national or regional lockdown laws instructing them to stay at home”.
The group warned that “Not all lockdowns have been written into law – some have just been advisory, though it’s very difficult for consumers to tell the difference”.
Easyjet told Which? that its current lockdown policy in place for the whole of the UK means that “passengers can receive refunds even on flights that continue to operate”.
Meanwhile over a third (37 per cent) or respondents said they had been unable to travel because the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) had advised against all non-essential travel to their destination.
Which? notes that some carriers continued to operate flights to countries carrying this FCDO advice, and warned that while “those with package holidays would have been entitled to a full refund in these circumstances, those with flight-only bookings are not”.
The need to quarantine on return to the UK was cited as a reason for not travelling for 28 per cent of those surveyed, while a similar number (27 per cent) said they were unable to fly “because of restrictions in place at their destination that would prevent them from entering the country”.
Many airlines have put in place flexible booking policies, which are subject to change or extension at short notice – Business Traveller advises readers to check with individual airlines when considering making a booking.
Which? concluded its report by advising that “anyone considering booking flights for this summer to wait until the situation around international travel becomes clearer, and when the time comes, to book a package holiday rather than a flight-only booking for stronger passenger protections, and only with a trusted provider that offers a generous and flexible booking policy”.