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COVID-19: Refund, travel credit or refundable credit?

To the point Reimbursement, travel credit and refundable credit? Discover the different options chosen by airlines to fight the financial tragedy caused by COVID-19.

Travel credit or refund?

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, airlines are adjusting their policies every day, both for future and existing bookings.

At the very beginning, the rules were generous: it was possible to get a full refund for a flight that we decided not to take, even if the ticket was not refundable. Similarly, a flight cancelled by the airline was reimbursed in full (as is normally the case).

Now the airlines have decided to stop reimbursing their customers. Instead, they offer a travel credit, valid until the end of 2020 in some cases or 24 months in others.

For such measures to be taken, even if they contravene existing legislation or case law, the financial haemorrhage must be enormous.

We are talking about hundreds or even thousands of dollars, per passenger, that are kept in the airlines’ coffers. Perhaps, at this time, these same passengers would need this money because they are also facing economic difficulties such aslayoffs?

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However, if, from a legal point of view, this remains questionable, would it not be a good solution from an economic and social point of view to avoid the loss of thousands of jobs, and of a whole section of our aviation industry, and even of the travel sector in general?

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Air Canada - A220-300

Discover the middle way chosen by Air France: refundable travel credit. An option that we would like to see taken up by other airlines!

In the Facebook group, hundreds of travelers share their cancellation experience in this unique topic.

Get compensation!

Thanks to our partnership with AirHelp, get compensation for your cancelled flight.

Going through AirHelp costs you nothing, and AirHelp takes care of everything. If the airline compensates you, AirHelp will keep part of this compensation (between 15% and 35%) and pay you the rest!

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Air France's refundable credit

Air France, unlike Air Canada, is a company living in an ultra-competitive world. Not only vis-à-vis its European competitors (Lufthansa and British Airways in particular) or the Middle East (Emirates, Qatar, Etihad), but also and above all because of the existence of low-cost airlines such as Easyjet or Ryanair.

It is a company that is not as financially strong as Air Canada. However, under COVID-19, it decided to choose another option: a refundable credit note.

If your flight has been cancelled, you can complete this form to obtain a refund in the form of a credit valid for 1 year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic flights. This credit is refundable after one year if it is not used.

Air France
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By doing so, Air France is giving itself a year’s worth of breathing space vis-à-vis its customers. Within one year, if the passenger has not been able to use his or her travel credit for a flight with Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines or Virgin Atlantic, the credit will be refunded.

Whereas in the case of Air Canada or other airlines, if the travel credit is not used within the allotted time, it will be lost.

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Air France - A350 - Classe Business

Other companies are doing the same, such as United, as Catherine pointed out to us in the milesopedia community.

Wait before you cancel your flight!

Anyway, at the time of writing this article, it is becoming more and more obvious that you should let the airlines cancel your reservations rather than take the lead (unless, of course, you find your account there or you win in your discussion).

Indeed, the rules will be more generous if it is the airline that causes the cancellation rather than you.

For example, in the case of Air Canada, here’s the difference:

If you have made a reservation before March 31, 2020 and wish to cancel it, you may do so without cancellation charges. You will then receive a full credit that you can use for your next trip. This credit will be valid for travel before March 31, 2021.

Air Canada

If your flight has been cancelled, you will receive full credit, which you can use towards future travel. This credit is valid for travel within 24 months of your flight cancellation date.

Air Canada

It will be more interesting to wait to see if your flight has been cancelled rather than take the first step!

The last options

It would appear that airlines are increasingly reluctant to offer a refund on the original means of payment, preferring to opt for travel credit.

However, please note that by being polite, it is always possible to get a refund in some cases! Marie-Pascale shared her comment here.

Nevertheless, if you are not satisfied with the options offered by your airline, there are still 2 or 3 solutions:

  • Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance for your credit card: this will compensate you for non-refundable costs.
  • Chargeback by letting your credit card issuer arrange with the airline for service not rendered. It works if your flight has been cancelled (and not if you cancel your trip that takes place in 6 months)!
  • if you purchased your ticket through a travel agent, see the conditions for the Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents.

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