Passengers in the EU have the right to request a refund when their flight gets cancelled and, according to the regulation on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, airlines have to issue the refund within 7 days after the passenger’s request. So far however there has been no established timeframe for when flights are booked through intermediary travel agencies.
Following a dialogue with the European Commission and national consumer authorities (CPC network), the three major European airline intermediaries (eDreams ODIGEO, Etraveli Group and Kiwi.com) committed to better inform consumers of their rights in case of flight cancellations by airlines and to transfer ticket refunds within 7 days after receiving them from the airlines, meaning that consumers should receive them after a total of 14 days.
This action is a new step to ensure that consumers get their right fully respected and get a timely ticket refund – no matter if they booked directly with an airline or via an intermediary.
Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice
“Since the Covid crisis we have acted to increase the resilience of the air travel sector and its capacity to respect their commitments towards consumers. For instance, by ensuring that companies have means to pay back passengers when flights are cancelled by an airline. Consumers will also be better informed of their passenger rights and of the possible hurdles that they could face in case of issues in connection with a booking through intermediaries”, explained European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders.
The online travel agencies made the following commitments, to be introduced to their practices ahead of the upcoming summer holiday season, by 30 June 2023:
- In case of cancelled flights, the online travel agencies will transfer refunds from the airline on to the consumer within 7 days from the day the online travel agency receives the refund from the airline. This will result in a refund in 14 days for consumers having bought their ticket through an online travel agency. Remaining backlogs in transferring refunds received from airlines have been or will be cleared by 30 June 2023 at the latest.
- The online travel agencies’ telephone number and e-mail address will be provided in or via the support or ‘contact us’ sections of their websites – so that consumers can choose whether to communicate with them via e-mail or telephone.
- Information on the specific benefits linked to different service packages offered by the online travel agencies will be made clearer for consumers.
- Consumers will be clearly informed about their statutory rights under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation to rerouting or reimbursement in cases where the airline cancels their flights. They will also be clearly informed if the flight was cancelled.
- Consumers will be clearly informed about the consequences that specific services offered by airline intermediaries can have on the consumer’s rights in the event of a flight disruption (e.g. that contact details may not have been transferred to the airlines, or that when only one leg of a trip is cancelled, the second leg may still have to be paid where there is no interlink between the flights constituting the journey).
The network of European consumer protection authorities will now close its dialogues with all airline intermediaries, but authorities will continue to monitor whether commitments are correctly implemented. The network will furthermore continue to monitor compliance by airlines with their commitments under the CPC action against 16 major airlines conducted in 2021.
This action complements a previous dialogue with 16 major European airlines that resulted in those airlines committing to respect the 7-day time limit for reimbursements and reimbursing over 500,000 flight vouchers that they had imposed on consumers following flight cancellations during the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2021 dialogue with the airlines had cast a spotlight on additional delays experienced by consumers when cancelled tickets had been purchased through an intermediary.