Flights: Travel expert issues refund voucher time limit warning amid cancelled holidays

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Flights were brought to a standstill earlier this year by COVID-19 and there hasn’t been much improvement to the holiday landscape since. This summer saw commercial flights down by a whopping 50 percent compared to last year. England has now entered a second lockdown, with anyone in the country once again forbidden from travelling.

Many people have been landed with vouchers or credit notes rather than a cash refund this year as travel brands attempt to stay afloat amid the crisis.

However, it’s vital to note that these vouchers do have an expiry date.

What do you do if your deadline is approaching?

Alex Neill, chief executive of Resolver, shared her travel advice on the subject with BBC News viewers this morning.

“Many people won’t have been even aware that these vouchers actually have got these time limits and the fact that they’re all different for each company,” she explained.

“My advice to anybody would be to get on the phone to their airline. If that date is coming up, I would try and extend it.”

Neill recommends asking your operator to be “reasonable.”

“Given that we are in the situation we’re in, we aren’t able to travel, I think it’s only right and fair that they would at least look at extending vouchers,” she said.

“If you don’t get your way with a company then use someone like Resolver and complain again and go and take it to an ombudsman because it feels really unfair to me that these companies wouldn’t extend those deadlines.”

Unfortunately, there is no legal protection for those disinclined to travel if, for instance, they feel uncomfortable doing so in the current climate.

However, again, it’s worth contacting the company, explaining the situation, asking for a refund – and turning to an ombudsman if the request falls on deaf ears.

“There is guidance from other regulators saying if you’ve got a real reason you should be getting your money back here, and the airline industry doesn’t really seem to be listening to that, so I’d keep pushing it if you’ve got real legitimate reasons not to be travelling,” Neill advised.

The travel chaos has doubtless left many Britons itching to travel again when the time is right.

However, it’s important to proceed with care and look at the different terms and conditions for the companies.

“If you do get your flight cancelled, make sure that you do ask for a refund, you’re entitled to it,” said Neill.

“But otherwise, make sure you understand what will happen if you can’t travel and if you’re going to have to pay any fees to change the flights in particular.”

As for the major airlines’ different stances, Ryanair says you have 12 months to spend the voucher and it can be exchanged for cash at any point during that time.

British Airways states their vouchers are valid until April 2022 but, once issued, they can’t be converted back to cash.

EasyJet details that vouchers will last for 12 months but will only be exchanged for cash in exceptional circumstances.

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