Today, easyJet announced the launch of Covid-19 Help Hub to speed up their process of refunds/vouchers for holidaymakers that have already booked holidays to Spain and other destinations, as reported.
EXPATS in Spain and British holidaymakers have been delighted with easyJet’s response, despite the difficult financial situation that all airlines are facing right now as a result of being grounded due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, many of Ryanair’s customers are not impressed with the change to its latest refund policy. Even consumer rights company Which? accused the airline of “trying to pressure people into taking vouchers instead of refunds.”
Ryanair customers have hit out at emails from the airline, encouraging them to take a voucher for the original value of their trip instead of a refund, which is valid for 12 months of future travel plans. If the voucher is not used before the expiry date, customers can apply for a refund, the company said. So, potentially customers face a wait of up to 12 months for a refund, and many are disappointed with Ryanair’s changed refund policy.
Many readers responded to an article on the topic written by EWN, earlier this week, voicing their discontent with Ryanair’s refund policy. “I always used Ryanair and have asked for two refunds for flights they cancelled,” stated Al Bath to EWN. “My first Lisbon-Malaga flight was initially refused a refund, after which they agreed to refund me.” But for his second Malaga-Stanstead flight, for which he was initially offered a refund online, the airline is now “offering vouchers instead as they have no intention of giving a cash refund until the end of Covid-19 problems,” said Bath.
Disappointed holidaymaker, Debbie Milligan, wrote to EWN commenting: “I am in exactly the same position as my elderly parents were due to fly to Costa del Sol on April 21 and myself to the Canaries. I requested a Covid-19 refund a few weeks back and was told I was in a queue. Then I received an email last night, stating I qualify for a credit note. My parents are elderly and God forbid anything to happen to them, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to use a credit note or even fly again. What use is this to them at 73-years-old?”
However, Alexander Hill, an Airbnb operative, defended Ryanair’s policy: “Having just read your article about Ryanair refunding customers with credit, I wanted to share some thoughts. I also applied for a cash refund after my flight was cancelled and I also received a 12 month credit instead, today. I work for Airbnb’s customer support and am a “low income and no income loss” citizen during this crisis. It makes sense for Ryanair, as it makes sense for most companies, to push for credit refunds. I don’t understand why we should be outraged by their policy. When applying for the cash refund, they mention that they’ll make you wait until the end of the crisis to send you the cash refund. This is very discouraging when seeking a refund, but also makes sense to protect their liquidities until the crisis is over.”
This crisis “is no-one’s fault”, he pointed out. “It’s not the travellers’ fault; It’s not Ryanair’s fault. I feel it’s unfair that the entire burden of cancellations are being carried by the airlines.” He goes on to say: “There are two types of people affected by the crisis: those with loss of income, those without loss of income. In an ideal world, and with a massive privacy violation, refunds should be determined on your financial situation.
“I have not suffered a loss of income (although my job is in danger). I have not been able to spend my income being quarantined at home, and have saved a huge proportion of my salary this month. I should be asked to support these companies and asked to accept travel credit. However, if you have suffered a loss of income, it’s more understandable you might need a cash refund. At Airbnb, we have also been refunding mostly as travel credit and I have been amazed by how well people are accepting the credit without complaining. Many explain they understand it’s the fair thing to do, or say they had already promised the host to book again as soon as they fix new dates.”
That said, he has also “suffered the worst yelling-at so far”. However, “now is a time for everybody to focus on the big picture and make sure we all support each other. Airlines, hosts, hotels – all need to make an effort to ensure their travellers are refunded. But by the same token, travellers need to be flexible with the refunds.” Fair point. What do you think?