Thousands of holidays have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite it being almost impossible to travel now with many countries closing their borders and planes grounded, getting your money back from your cancelled holiday is not as easy as you think.
If you have already had your holiday cancelled, you probably know how difficult obtaining that refund is. Although flight companies will have us believe that you can just click a button and your refund will be processed just like that, they actually seem to prefer to mess us around.
As the organiser of a tour to Athens that was supposed to happen at the end of March, I had to deal with getting refunds for myself and 26 other people, so the pressure was on. Our flights were cancelled well over a week before the trip as Greece closed their borders early on, but a refund would not come for weeks after.
When I first got the email through saying our flights were cancelled, EasyJet (who we booked both the inbound and outbound flight with) were offering refunds at the click of the button. All I had to do was login to my account, navigate my way to the flight bookings, and click a request refund button. Supposedly the refund would be with me within a week, yet twelve days later I had received no money and no communication from EasyJet regarding my request. At this point I decided to try and contact them, however their call centres were closed, and the only online enquiry form they had was for package holidays so my reference number for flights alone would not work.
It wasn’t until at least four weeks after the flights were cancelled that I finally managed to get a refund, so here is my advice on what you can do if you are also battling with a flight company to get a full refund (and not a voucher like they are all so keen on offering).
With call centres closed the first thing I turned to was Twitter. A quick search showed me that EasyJet were still replying to tweets to them and solving issues there on weekdays so I sent them a DM with my booking reference, email address, full name and what my issue was. I also then Tweeted them asking them to reply to my DM and followed that up again later on with another tweet. I never actually heard back from EasyJet through Twitter but I have seen loads of people who have solved their issues this way so it is definitely worth a shot.
Head of Customer Services
Personally, I never actually got round to using this step, but I saw a lot of people on Twitter saying emailing the head of customer services for the flight company worked. If you can find the email for this person, either through a Google or Twitter search, then this is definitely a good bet, and saves you faffing on with call centres and forms.
Call Centre (If They Are Open and You Don’t Mind Lying a Bit)
Eventually, the EasyJet customer service phone lines opened, not that this was particularly easy either, but you have to be persistent. When I rang the call centre, I repeatedly got a message saying that they were busy and rather than staying on hold you needed to ring back later, at which point the phone would hang up automatically. Desperate for a refund, I sat on the phone repeatedly ringing the call centre until eventually I got through to hold. At this point I was asked a bunch of questions from an automated voice requiring me to press different numbers. One of these questions was ‘do you have a flight in the next 48 hours’. Although I did not have a flight then, I still said yes so that I could actually get through to speak to a real person and get the refund. Once I got through to someone, they were really helpful and nice. I was insistent that I wanted the refund that I was promised rather than vouchers and once she had processed it all, the refund came through in around a week.
Claiming back flight money is not going to be easy as the companies are so keen to give you vouchers or reschedule the flights, instead of refunds. Know your rights and know that you are entitled to a refund because they cannot deliver the services. Persistence is key. I hope you’re successful.