JET2 is the only UK airline paying customer refunds on time, according to a damning report from the industry regulator.
Frustrated customers have been left waiting to get their money back from British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair and others after flights were cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic.
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In a review of 18 airlines' refund practices during the coronavirus pandemic, the Civil Aviation Authority found that budget carrier Jet2 was the only British carrier "consistently processing cash refunds quickly" with "only a small backlog of refund requests".
US companies American Airlines and United Airlines were also praised for their prompt refund practices.
Frustrated customers who have spent hours chasing refunds for cancelled holidays will not be surprised that six carriers (easyJet, Emirates, Loganair, TUI, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair) were slammed for delays in processing refunds.
Six other airlines (Air Canada, Air Transat, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Westjet) were named and shamed for "not paying cash refunds" – only offering customers vouchers or rebooking instead.
Based on its research so far, the CAA said it has also sent out a warning letter to around 30 other airlines highlighting that they should be offering prompt cash refunds to customers.
The regulator said it has also received assurances that airlines will be "informing passengers of cancellations, providing clearer information about their options and better signposting on how to request a refund" in the future.
Carriers that still require passengers to telephone their call centre will be required to "focus on reducing call waiting times and making it as easy as possible to request a refund".
Airline refunds: best performers and worst offenders
The CAA ranked the airlines it investigated by the longest refund wait times during the crisis*.
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- British Airways
- Eastern Airways
- Aer Lingus
- TUI (later improved to seven days)
- Easyjet (later improved to less than 30 days)
- Emirates (later improved to 60 days)
Not paying cash refunds:
- Air Canada
- Air Transat
- Malaysia Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
*wait times may have since shortened and following CAA pressure all airlines have now agreed to pay cash refunds
CAA boss Richard Moriarty praised airlines for reducing their backlogs and speeding up refund processes in recent weeks.
“Although we have taken into account the serious operational challenges many airlines have faced, we have been clear that customers cannot be let down, and that airlines must pay refunds as soon as possible,” he said.
“There is still work to do. We have required commitments from airlines as they continue the job of paying customer refunds.
“Should any airline fall short of the commitments they have made, we will not hesitate to take any further action where required.”
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