Passengers across Britain are being denied cash refunds from airlines despite the Foreign Office travel ban amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dozens have got in touch with MailOnline over the past 24 hours saying they are only being offered the chance to rebook after their holidays were cancelled.
Others have been unable to get through to customer service teams after the Government’s warning against all but essential travel to anywhere in the world.
NHS frontline nurse Jeanette Turner hit out at easyJet after it only offered her the chance to rebook a flight to Amsterdam for her birthday which was cancelled.
Meanwhile a Wizz Air passenger was told to arrive at Luton Airport in plenty of time for a flight to Hungary – despite Britons being unable to enter the country.
And a 63-year-old easyJet traveller from London told MailOnline he had lost £190 having been due to fly to Geneva on Friday next week with the airline.
Here is a round-up of case studies, after a probe by consumer champions Which? found that carriers including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair are refusing to let passengers cancel and claim a refund on flights still scheduled to run.
NHS frontline nurse hits out at easyJet after airline only allows her to rebook cancelled flight to Amsterdam
An NHS frontline nurse hit out at easyJet today after it only offered her the chance to rebook a flight to Amsterdam which was cancelled.
Jeanette Turner said a ‘stressful time is being added to’ by the airline, with her trying to talk to customer services ‘numerous times’ without success.
She was due to fly to Amsterdam today, but told MailOnline that this was cancelled by easyJet along with the return flight on March 29.
Jeanette Turner (right), with her family – (from left) her son Benjamin, husband Peter and Laura, Benjamin’s wife. Mrs Turner’s birthday trip to Amsterdam has been cancelled
Mrs Turner said: ‘They are only offering to rebook. I do not want to do this. I have tried numerous times via phone, on line chat, email and form submission to no avail.
‘My friends’ flight to Florence was cancelled recently and they automatically got the option of a refund, as did my son whose flight to Zurich was cancelled.
‘I am a NHS frontline nurse and what us obviously a stressful time is being added to by easyJet.’
She said she was due to travelling with her husband Peter for her birthday, adding: ‘I do not want to rebook as no idea when this pandemic will be over.
‘Plus I do not want this added stress again of trying for a refund if we rebook and still cannot fly.’
Wizz Air passenger, 32, is told to arrive at Luton Airport ‘two hours early’ for her flight to Hungary – despite Britons being unable to enter the country
Hannah Walsh, 32, was due to fly to Budapest with Wizz Air on Tuesday
WizzAir is still running flights from London to Budapest and Sofia, despite British citizens being currently unable to enter Hungary or Bulgaria.
Hannah Walsh was due to fly to Budapest with Wizz Air on Tuesday, and had expected receive notice that her flight had been cancelled.
But instead she was shocked to receive an email about her upcoming flight, encouraging her to arrive at London Luton Airport in plenty of time.
She then learned after the flight – which she did not take – that a passenger on it had been diagnosed with coronavirus.
Wizz Air said it was ‘expecting a very high number of passengers’.
But Ms Walsh, 32, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, is not a Hungarian citizen so would potentially have been stranded at the airport had she flown.
She had spent £62 in total for two passengers, and had to choose between paying Wizz Air’s flight cancellation or rebooking fees, or miss her flight.
Hannah Walsh received an email from Wizz Air about her upcoming flight to Budapest, encouraging her to arrive at London Luton Airport in plenty of time
Having chosen not to travel, she then received a further email today which revealed a passenger on the flight was diagnosed with coronavirus.
‘We would kindly ask you to contact your local health authority immediately’, it said.
A spokesman for Wizz Air said: ‘The wellbeing and safety of customers is Wizz Air’s number one priority’.
EasyJet passenger, 63, loses £190 after being due to fly to Geneva
Harvey Mozer, 63, haslost £190 having been due to fly to Geneva with easyJet next week
An easyJet passenger has lost £190 having been due to fly to Geneva on Friday next week with the airline.
Harvey Mozer told MailOnline he was aware of Swiss and French travel restrictions, and easyJet offered him a ‘free’ chance to move his flight to January next year.
However, Mr Mozer, 63, of North London, added: ‘The downside of this was my original flight was £250-ish return and the replacement flight was only £60 return.
‘I decided to take what was offered in case I missed the flight next week, due to a possible last minute website crash etc, and I would lose £250.
‘They would not offer a refund even though they were probably going to cancel the flight. They state on their website that they will not offer refunds due to extraordinary circumstances!’
Mr Mozer added that he was a ‘bit put out as I have now lost £190’.
Mr Mozer, from North London, initially spent more than £250 on his flights to and from Geneva
And here is a selection of what other readers have said:
Tami Dillon, Leeds
‘EasyJet are a nightmare. They have finally cancelled our flights have a few hours before our once in a lifetime family trip to Disneyland Paris. We were hoping they would to stop the coronavirus spread.
‘But they have only offered us a flight change or vouchers? Refused a refund even though they’ve cancelled. We paid nearly £600 for flights which is needed so much right now! Awful, not only are we heartbroken we should be in Disneyland today, but they won’t answer the phone, reply to emails. online chats etc.
‘Just complete silence! Every other company has been amazing offering refunds. Including Disney and our hotel and tour operator Magic Breaks. Why can easyJet keep our money when they haven’t provided a service?
‘They haven’t paid staff, used plane fuel? Nothing has been provided to warrant them keeping all of our money? I just don’t understand. Plus the rumours of them paying £170million to shareholders last week is awful and not paying staff! They don’t even have the decency to speak to us! be honest!’
‘I have 6 flights booked over the next two weeks with EasyJet and currently it’s not a matter of not getting a refund, I can’t even get through to them to discuss options.
‘I’ve been calling regularly and persistently for the last four days to be greeted by a recorded message saying they are very busy please call back and then the line goes dead.
‘Currently regardless of the fact they have no aircraft in the air I’ve not even been notified my flights next week have been cancelled. What a mess!’
‘I was due to fly from Manchester to Munich today. EasyJet cancelled the flight last Monday, by email. Despite the accompanying message mentioning refunds, I was directed to the ‘Manage Disruption’ button associated with my booking on the company’s website or app.
‘On doing so, I found that the only option open to me was to rebook a ‘Free Change’ flight to the same destination on another day, the first of which was on March 29. Since none of the dates offered fitted with my plans, I decided to request a refund, via EasyJet Customer Services.
‘This proved impossible as the lengthy pre-recorded telephone message simply directed to the app, advised to call back later and promptly hung up with a rather abrupt ‘Goodbye’.
‘I waited until today (the day of the flight), visited the app and the ‘Manage Disruption’ button again, only to find that all flights from Manchester to Munich before April 3 had been cancelled. There still being no option for a refund, I decided to use the ‘Free Change’ option and have rebooked flights for April 3, in order to prevent losing the fare for the original flight.
‘April 3 still falls within the UK government’s projected timescale for the current lockdown situation, therefore, I fully expect this flight will also be cancelled. It seems that EasyJet are simply kicking the can further down the road until travel restrictions are lifted and then they can offer me a change that I shall be forced to accept, unless I want to lose money. They may even claim that the new fare is more expensive and request additional payment.
‘I have read that some customers have been given a refund by easyJet, but that option has not been extended to myself.’
‘My flight with Easyjet on March 30, has been cancelled; I expected it and do not have a problem with it.
‘What I do have a problem with however, is easyJet’s invitation to ring their customer services in order to claim a refund of the air fare. This procedure is archaic.
‘We are in the 21st century and Easyjet needs to fully join it. I have tried getting through to them and I am losing the will to live.
‘EasyJet must, as a matter of urgency, set up an online application form for claiming a refund. It cannot be that difficult to put in place, if the will to do so is there.’
‘I was in a party of four flying to Portugal for a golfing trip. We were due to fly out last Sunday returning home today, Friday 27. The golfing trip was booked through a company and we had made our own flight bookings which were with easyJet.
‘The holiday was postponed until next year and so that left us to deal with the flights. Easyjet maintained that the flights were not refundable as they were still scheduled to ‘fly’ albeit no flights were actually taking place.
‘The company representative advised me that we could only receive a refund if either the Foreign and Commonwealth Office deemed Portugal was not safe which, at the time of our flight it had not done so, or if Portugal had closed its borders to flights.
‘The only option left open to us was to rebook our flights before our flight time for another date with Easyjet or loose the flights altogether. We were unsure if Section 75 with our credit card company would cover us given that easyJet had offered us an alternative, albeit one we didn’t want. Similarly with our insurance company, although our insurance did cover us for coronavirus as both the renewal and the holiday were booked last year.
‘In the end we just selected arbitrary dates for later in the year and at times that did not incur any additional costs. We did this in the knowledge that we will have to change them again once the golfing holiday is rebooked for next year and we know the dates. No doubt easyJet will charge us a fee for changing them!’
‘On January 11 I booked my flights with easyJet for myself and my three children costing £465.42 and on the same day I also booked my accommodation costing me £215.75. We were due to fly to Switzerland on April 6 and returning on April 9.
‘I have tried for the last two weeks to get in touch with easyJet but no luck. Their lines are constantly engaged and now you can’t even hold because they just cut you off. They have sent an email offering to move to a later date but not offering refund.
‘I have contacted the accommodation, they won’t refund nor will they move to a later date even though easyJet is not flying. I have contacted the credit card company too and they won’t step in because they say easyJet is offering to change the dates.
‘I also bought travel insurance but they don’t cover.To be honest with so much uncertainty I cannot book for another date. We have no idea how long this virus will go on and how bad it will get.’
What do the airlines say?
‘Customers on cancelled flights can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge or receive a voucher for the value of their booking online or claim a refund through our contact centre.
‘We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.
‘For customers whose flights are not cancelled but would like to move to a later date they can amend their flight online with no change fee and we have brought forward our winter schedule on-sale so customers have more choice to move their flights, up to February 28, 2021.’
Grounded easyJet aircraft are parked up at London Luton Airport due to the virus, on Tuesday
‘To allow greater flexibility you can change the destination, date of travel, or both without being charged a change fee, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to Sunday 31 May 2020, or receive a voucher for any existing bookings that depart up to Sunday 31 May 2020.
‘We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls and have brought in extra teams to help, so please bear with us. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
‘To cancel your booking simply fill in our online form and we’ll exchange your booking for a voucher you can use for a future trip. Applicable if you are due to travel between now and 31 May 2020.’
British Airways planes parked up at London City Airport yesterday as the lockdown continues
‘Any passenger whose flight has been cancelled as a result of these Government shutdowns, will over the next week or two, receive an email outlining their options.
‘At the same time as we are dealing with unprecedented numbers of flight bans, we have had to reduce office staff by 50 per cent for social distancing reasons and we ask customers to be patient and bear with us; you will receive email communications in due course.
‘Please do not call our phonelines as the reduced staffing will be unable to accommodate anything but the most urgent of cases, which over the coming days, will be rescue flights.’
A Ryanair jet is seen on the Tarmac at Dublin Airport next to an Aer Lingus plane on Monday