Airlines, including BA and SAS, offer customers who have booked flight tickets only through third parties the option to refund.
By law, customers must be reimbursed within seven days if their flight with an EU carrier, or from an EU airport, is canceled, in accordance with the Denied Boarding Regulation.
These regulations apply to the airline, not to the online travel agency (OTA). And ultimately, the airline is responsible for this refund, whether or not the customer has booked directly or through an agent.
Yet which one? Travel has heard from customers who have been repeatedly scammed by airlines who insist they cannot help customers who have booked through an OTA. One customer, who is £ 510 out of pocket, has been transferred from the airline to the travel agent for seven weeks.
The confusion has left many consumers unsure of where to turn next.
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BA hunts customers
Tanika Tucker booked a one-way flight from Brussels to London through online agent Kiwi.
When it was canceled, Kiwi offered Tanika several refund options, but was told the only way she could get all of her money back was to sue the airline itself directly. Kiwi has stated that they will no longer process their reservation if they select this option.
She reached out to BA on Twitter, but the airline told her repeatedly that she had to deal with Kiwi. He said she couldn’t choose who would refund her reservation.
After Tanika reiterated that Kiwi would no longer be dealing with her, BA asked for details of her flight. But she still hasn’t received a refund for the £ 86 she paid for the flight.
BA said to what? he will not reimburse Tanika directly and she must return to Kiwi, again. He said, “As is standard industry practice, customers who have booked through a travel agent should contact them directly for assistance with their reservation.”
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) returns the ball to Gotogate
Colin Alexander is stuck in an impasse between his airline, SAS, and OTA, Gotogate.
When his flights to Düsseldorf were canceled, Gotogate said he would seek a refund for Colin from SAS. Later, Gotogate informed him that the airline did not offer a refund and to contact SAS to get a voucher instead, which Colin knew he did not have to accept.
After seven weeks of back and forth, SAS told Colin that he would refund via Gotogate, but Gotogate will not issue a refund without it in writing. Colin still owes £ 510.
SAS told Which ?: “The customer can contact us for a refund, but we always recommend that customers contact their agents as there could be differences in ticket prices.”
Malaysia Airlines (MA) announces agreement with Lycafly
Sophie Oliver booked return flights from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur with MA, via OTA, Lycafly. The flights cost £ 1,148 in total.
After MA canceled the flights, Lycafly first told Sophie that she would be reimbursed, but then offered a voucher or a flight change instead. She was told to contact MA directly if she was not satisfied, but they referred her back to OTA.
Under EU regulations, MA owes Sophie a refund for her outbound flights.
Malaysia Airlines told Which? : “We are fully compliant with the regulations of various jurisdictions. For travel agent bookings, all customers should refer to their travel agents to process changes to their tickets… because customers who book through travel agents usually have different terms and conditions. ‘
However, from which? contacted Malaysia Airlines, she fully reimbursed Sophie for the flights.
Who is responsible for the final refund transaction?
The legal obligation to reimburse passengers ultimately rests with the airline.
Airlines and agents may have their own agreements as to who physically provides the reimbursement, but if the flight is protected by the denied boarding regulations, the airline must spit it out.
If we give you the tour, which one? advise you to remove the agent and ask your airline to refund directly to your bank account.
If the airline confirms that they will reimburse, but insists that they will only pay your travel agent, be sure to get the reimbursement confirmation in writing.
If your agent offers you a voucher, your airline is likely to refuse a refund. In this case, run after the airline to demand that they reimburse you or your travel agent. If the airline doesn’t pay, try a debit card chargeback or one credit card Section 75 claim.
This is the case only for flight bookings only. If you have booked a package travel, the travel agent is fully responsible under the Package Travel Regulations 2018.