European airlines and at least ywelve EU countries, including Greece, have asked the EU to suspend its rules which require that travelers of cancelled flights due to the coronavirus can teceive a refund within seven days.
Since the outbreak of the virus, most airlines have opted to offer vouchers instead of refunds.
Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal are calling upon the EU Commission to allow airlines “to choose the means by which passengers are reimbursed” as ”they are facing a serious cash flow challenge”.
In March, the EU published guidelines reiterating that customers are entitled to refunds. “If the carrier proposes a voucher, this offer cannot affect the passenger’s right to opt for reimbursement instead,” it stated.
The bloc’s transport chief Adina Vălean hinted that the EU could step in: “We continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation, and, if need be, further steps will be taken.”
Passenger rights experts say that it is illegal for an airline to offer an alternative flight or vouchers, instead of a refund.
One way for grounded travelers to recoup the cost of a cancelled trip is through a chargeback on their credit cards. The European Consumer Centre France says customers can get their credit card company to issue a refund if a company doesn’t deliver the service you paid for.
“First try to find a solution with the trader directly, if possible in writing. If the trader does not react, refuses to reimburse you or to proceed with the delivery, or if the trader goes bankrupt, send a dispute to the credit card issuer and/or your bank. If your credit card issuer or bank refuses to reimburse you, contact their bank mediator,” the organization advised in their statement.