By Gary Holmes, Travel Consultant, Not Just Travel
The issue of securing refunds or credit notes for cancelled holidays and other trips (business and leisure) amid the coronavirus crisis is generating a lot of publicity.
The first challenge was to get everybody home, and as the days went on there were fewer and fewer flights coming back to the UK. For passengers it was no good phoning airline call centres if they were stranded abroad – you had to go to the airport with your luggage and queue up to find out when the next flight were going to be, to get home.
I think it’s fair to say that many people got caught short, and people who had booked their holidays through people like me were busy running around trying to find flights for our client’s to get home.
There have been 000s of flights/holidays that have been cancelled due to Covid-19, and suppliers have been struggling to keep up. It’s also a fact that many suppliers have furloughed a number of their staff, which has compounded the problem for resource to deal with the ever-increasing number of bookings that have been cancelled
Within the industry there has been a lot of debate around fully refunding customers with their cancelled booking. It was hopeful that the Government would intervene and would relax the law in refunding monies within 14 days, but even up to today that hasn’t happened and, in my opinion, I don’t believe this is going to happen now.
So, we have some airlines attempting to refuse giving full refunds and offering credits and this has also been the case for hotels. Therefore, the suppliers are saying giving full refund could take months. These poor suppliers are caught in the middle where the airlines and hotels are being very slow in refunding monies.
As such, Travel Consultants are having to manage client expectations and pushing the suppliers hard whilst there is a lot of publicity for the rights in giving refunds.
We still have a way to go, as flights have been cancelled up until the end of May and some in the middle of June. The challenge we have is how long will this lock down be going to go on for, because if it goes on for the summer time period there will be 000s more holidays being cancelled.
There is about 50% of holidays being re-booked, which has avoided refunds which is good all round where this has been acceptable by customers. This is because people are wanting something to look forward to.
However, the customer is king and if requested they should be fully refunded and on time, and we (the customer) shouldn’t have to fight for this right.