The Coronavirus pandemic has caused huge problems for airlines, most of whom have had to ground most or all of their fleets. It has also resulted in millions of passengers wanting refunds for their cancelled flights.
All aviation call centres, no matter how many extra staff they employ / contract with, are experiencing difficulties responding at the busiest time they have ever experienced.
Bear in mind that that all airlines are overwhelmed by the current situation, and so will be working through hundreds of flights with tens of thousands of passengers. If your flight is not for this week or next week, it may make more sense to wait a few weeks until the airlines have sorted our resourcing issues in call centres and also improved their online refund procedures. Many airlines are also busy sorting out urgent repatriation flights.
Emirates, for instance, is not charging no-show fees so there’s no urgent rush.
Emirates has cancelled my flight. How do I get a refund?
Emirates has indeed suspended all passenger services from March 25 following the UAE government’s directive.
The airline will probably have sent you an automated email explaining what your options are. It’s also worth checking your flight status here.
An Emirates spokesperson told Business Traveller:
“The implementation of flight and travel restrictions by countries around the world to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, has been ongoing for the past weeks. Many were put in place with very little notice. Emirates understands that these are disruptive to travel, but as an airline operator, we have to follow government and regulatory directives.
“On 23 March, the UAE government directed that all passengers flights to/from and transiting the UAE should be suspended for two weeks. This means all Emirates passenger flights have to be temporarily suspended from 25 March. Since then, our teams have been working hard to inform customers and re-book as many as possible onto our remaining flights or others. But with many airlines having already significantly reduced their flights, it simply is not possible to accommodate every traveller.
“Affected customers can visit emirates.com for more information on travel vouchers against future flights, or refunds. We look forward to resuming flights as soon as possible, and will make announcements when we have new schedules. Travellers seeking repatriation assistance should contact their embassies.”
Am I entitled to a full refund?
Emirates is currently offering refundable travel vouchers and the option to change flights rather than refunding your ticket.
An Emirates spokesperson told Business Traveller:
“We ask for our customers’ understanding and patience during this time of unprecedented crisis for all airlines. Our teams are working round the clock to assist impacted passengers and with the scale of our operations there is a substantial backlog which will take time to process.
“In the meantime, to give customers whose flights are cancelled peace of mind, we are allowing customers to keep their ticket for use up to any period 24 months from the date of the original booking without the need to contact us.
“Alternatively, customers can opt for travel vouchers which can be easily processed on our website. These vouchers can be used against future Emirates flights within 12 months. If vouchers are not utilised after 12 months, they can still be brought to us for refunds.”
Postponing your flight
Rather than offering refunds, Emirates has extended the validity of your ticket up to 24 months from the date you made your original booking.
The website states:
“If your booking is fully cancelled you don’t have to decide or contact us right now. Just call our contact centre when you’re ready to book again. If you have flights still showing on your booking please call us to cancel them.”
Emirates is offering me a voucher instead of a refund.
Some airlines will offer a voucher for future travel instead of a refund. Obviously airlines would rather you rebooked with them, and this is one way of encouraging it. A voucher also has the advantage for the airline of allowing them to keep hold of your money and so help their cashflow.
Emirates customers with tickets issued on or before March 31 are eligible for a voucher if they have been impacted by a travel ban, travel advisory, quarantine requirements, mandatory lockdown or flight cancellation. To request a travel voucher, visit this webpage and add “refund request due to coronavirus” in the comments section (see below).
The travel voucher is valid for 12 months from date of issue to any Emirates destination within the same region, and as stated above, can be refunded if not used within these 12 months.
The carrier is also waiving change fees and fare differences for customers rebooking flights for travel on or before 30 June, 2020.
PLEASE DO NOT include your booking references, ticket numbers or names in the comments below. It contains personal information and should not be put on public forums.
We are trying to XXXX these out when we see them, but we are not the airline, and this is a public website.