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Coronavirus COVID-19 - Aegean policies, responses, help & advice ["noise free"]

Old Mar 11, 2020, 7:54 am
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To prevent thread drift and separation, this is a consolidated thread to document all A3 actions/issues/solutions etc related to the COVID-19 virus. Several previously raised threads have been consolidated into this one. Others where the information and/or advice is now outdated because of the speed at which events move have been closed.

Please use this thread to document actions related to A3 only. General COVID-19 discussions should be made in the dedicated FT forum: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/coronavirus-travel-773/

This is your wiki, so please feel free to populate it with useful information as it emerges and evolves.
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Coronavirus COVID-19 - Aegean policies, responses, help & advice ["noise free"]

Old Mar 21, 2020, 5:58 am
  #91  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Paris
Programs: Miles&Bonus *G
Posts: 318
Follow up on my case: I got through to the call center easily today. I was extremely polite with the very nice lady, and made it clear to her that I had no intention to put pressure on her about this situation, rather asked her to convey to her managers.

She definitely confirmed to me that due to "extraordinary circumstances" they were not giving refunds. I stopped her immediately (again, calm and polite) and explained to her that EC261 is crystal clear: Extraordinary circumstances relate to compensation, not refunds. Refunds for services not provided are non-negotiable at all times. Also, if A3 want to save themselves right now, they need to ask the state to intervene- We are not all rich and able to just loan 100s or 1000s of euros to A3, especially since they are not offering anything additional than a voucher with the same worth as the price paid (and a bunch of restrictions on its use!).

She listened in silence to my (ultra-mini) rant, completely understanding. When I asked for her to convey this info to management, she said to me, "they already know all this, what can I do...". At that point I realized we will not be able to change this, unless it is the government(s) stepping in to help the airlines...
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 11:50 am
  #92  
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: BRU
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I have heard on the news that the EU has allowed airlines to offer vouchers instead of refunds to protect them financially. However, I cannot find a source online to share with you all to proof this.
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 1:00 pm
  #93  
 
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Originally Posted by unusualtravelblog
I have heard on the news that the EU has allowed airlines to offer vouchers instead of refunds to protect them financially. However, I cannot find a source online to share with you all to proof this.
Who's going to protect us financially? If this is true, the EU is showing its true colours, looking after big business before its citizens.
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 1:24 pm
  #94  
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
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I've looked at the EC 261 claim process, and Step 1 is to complain to the airline. We all know how that's been going. Step 2 is to submit the complaint form to the national body. For Greece, that appears to be Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority - Passenger Rights. But, there's no instruction on how to submit it or who to submit it to. Alternative Dispute Resolution Entities, Online Dispute Resolution, and European Small Claims Court aren't possible/feasible for non-EU residents.

For those of you who filed credit card disputes, what did you end up asking Aegean to do? Did you just tell them to cancel the now-unusable tickets and refuse the credit voucher? What was their response to that? Are they just going to send the credit voucher anyway?
Also, I'm assuming that the credited funds are only temporary until the CC company completes its investigation. Worst case, you'll be out the money entirely and not even have a credit voucher...
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 1:32 pm
  #95  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Dubai
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Posts: 351
I called AMEX UK after I was refused a refund and they connected me to their Insurance department (by AXA). I was advised to file a claim, and will see how it goes. If rejected, I could still pursue a chargeback.

I feel sorry for the airlines and the staff, but we Customers have no obligation to provide them with interest free loans! I rarely fly Aegan, so the voucher is useless for me.
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 2:24 pm
  #96  
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
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To be clear this is not only about Aegean but all EU airlines
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Old Mar 21, 2020, 7:57 pm
  #97  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Hold your horses. The European Commission did indeed issue "Interpretive Guidelines" on passenger rights, which are meant to clarify the existing passenger rights framework in Europe in the wake of the corona crisis. "Interpretive" being the key term here – neither do these guidelines change anything about EU air passengers rights nor would the Commission have the right to do so. But indeed, the guidelines state:

It appears that various carriers are offering vouchers to passengers, who do not want to (or are not authorised to) travel any more as a result of the outbreak of Covid-19. Passengers can use these vouchers for another trip with the same carrier within a timeframe established by the carrier.

The situation has to be distinguished from the situation where the carrier cancels the journey and offers only a voucher instead of the choice between reimbursement and re-routing. If the carrier proposes a voucher, this offer cannot affect the passenger's right to opt for reimbursement instead.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites.../c20201830.pdf (p. 2, emphasis mine)

So, if your flight gets cancelled, you are entitled to the same rights as always namely the right to reimbursement, re-routing or return as well as the right to assistance. The only right you do not have (at least according to the guidelines) is the right to compensation, because Covid-19 is deemed as an extraordinary circumstance (note that a court could decide differently on this matter, since the guidelines do not have a binding character).

Therefore, you should first turn to the carrier, Aegean, to ask for reimbursement referring to the cancellation and EC261. Do this in writing (e.g. using this form), otherwise you have no proof if you have to turn to the national enforcement body.

Only if you do not receive an answer to your request within 6 weeks or if you are not satisfied by the answer (e.g. if Aegean keeps insisting on giving you a voucher instead of cash), you can file a complaint to the national enforcement body use this form. Read the instructions on the first page carefully, fill it out, and then send it to the national enforcement body responsible, which is not necessarily the Greek enforcement body. In case your flight was supposed to depart from an EU/EFTA country, then the body in the country of departure is responsible, otherwise (if you were planning a flight from outside the EU/EFTA) it is the country of arrival that counts. You can find the list of national enforcement bodies and their contact details here.

The same information is also available on Aegean's own website, so you can also refer to that in your request: https://en.aegeanair.com/contact/?rdr=a_id%2F962

Keep calm and good luck!
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 2:05 am
  #98  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
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We can all insist on our legal rights to obtain refunds and indeed I have been doing exactly this. However, the EU261 legal framework was set up in a different time and place. We need to recognise that Aegean Airlines is, like all other European carriers, now insolvent and attempts to squeeze blood from a stone just will not work. For sure, a massive recapitalisation of the airline sector will take place but not all airlines can and will be saved. The world will probably never be the same again and, coupled with rapidly developing fear of flying for environmental reasons, the frequent flyer community will become much smaller and fly less often than before. People will realise, as many millennials have been arguing, that so much flying is no longer necessary as the interconnected world focusses more on online rather than physical contact.
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 3:30 am
  #99  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
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Originally Posted by johnirvine
We can all insist on our legal rights to obtain refunds and indeed I have been doing exactly this. However, the EU261 legal framework was set up in a different time and place. We need to recognise that Aegean Airlines is, like all other European carriers, now insolvent and attempts to squeeze blood from a stone just will not work. For sure, a massive recapitalisation of the airline sector will take place but not all airlines can and will be saved. The world will probably never be the same again and, coupled with rapidly developing fear of flying for environmental reasons, the frequent flyer community will become much smaller and fly less often than before. People will realise, as many millennials have been arguing, that so much flying is no longer necessary as the interconnected world focusses more on online rather than physical contact.
This is true, and it is up to the governments to step in. For sure it should not be us, which is why we need to pursue our rights.

And when all this is over, we need to take a step back and look at why this system is failing, and what the alternatives can be. Because "extraordinary circumstances" happen every few years/decades, and corporations have to be bailed out by the governments, to avoid an economic apocalypse. Yet, in the good 'in-between' years, the owners/execs reap the profits, and even the 'extraordinary circumstances' (or bankruptcies) don't change their personal situations.

If they airline industry cannot be profitable in the long term for whatever reason, including due to 'extraordinary circumstances', maybe it's time to accept this fact go forward from there.
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 3:35 am
  #100  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Paris
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Originally Posted by Tennen
For those of you who filed credit card disputes, what did you end up asking Aegean to do? Did you just tell them to cancel the now-unusable tickets and refuse the credit voucher? What was their response to that? Are they just going to send the credit voucher anyway?
Also, I'm assuming that the credited funds are only temporary until the CC company completes its investigation. Worst case, you'll be out the money entirely and not even have a credit voucher...
There is no way to refuse the credit voucher. You either accept it (and get it, forfeiting your passenger rights) or you don't. The worst case that can happen is that the EU decides to suddenly reverse 261/2004 (not likely), the CC company decides you are in the wrong, and then you get a credit voucher from Aegean. They cannot impose a time limit for 'accepting' the voucher. They must reimburse you in some form, even if it's 2-3 months later.
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 3:45 am
  #101  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Paris
Programs: Miles&Bonus *G
Posts: 318
Originally Posted by nini_su
Hold your horses. The European Commission did indeed issue "Interpretive Guidelines" on passenger rights, which are meant to clarify the existing passenger rights framework in Europe in the wake of the corona crisis. "Interpretive" being the key term here neither do these guidelines change anything about EU air passengers rights nor would the Commission have the right to do so. But indeed, the guidelines state:



Source: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites.../c20201830.pdf (p. 2, emphasis mine)

So, if your flight gets cancelled, you are entitled to the same rights as always namely the right to reimbursement, re-routing or return as well as the right to assistance. The only right you do not have (at least according to the guidelines) is the right to compensation, because Covid-19 is deemed as an extraordinary circumstance (note that a court could decide differently on this matter, since the guidelines do not have a binding character).

Therefore, you should first turn to the carrier, Aegean, to ask for reimbursement referring to the cancellation and EC261. Do this in writing (e.g. using this form), otherwise you have no proof if you have to turn to the national enforcement body.

Only if you do not receive an answer to your request within 6 weeks or if you are not satisfied by the answer (e.g. if Aegean keeps insisting on giving you a voucher instead of cash), you can file a complaint to the national enforcement body use this form. Read the instructions on the first page carefully, fill it out, and then send it to the national enforcement body responsible, which is not necessarily the Greek enforcement body. In case your flight was supposed to depart from an EU/EFTA country, then the body in the country of departure is responsible, otherwise (if you were planning a flight from outside the EU/EFTA) it is the country of arrival that counts. You can find the list of national enforcement bodies and their contact details here.

The same information is also available on Aegean's own website, so you can also refer to that in your request: https://en.aegeanair.com/contact/?rdr=a_id%2F962

Keep calm and good luck!
Great post, thank you so much. This also highlights how cumbersome the system is- Having to wait 6 weeks for an answer is ridiculous, especially since we have an answer already from A3 orally (surely, there must be a better way?).

In any case, I will put my request in writing (in case I need to have proof for later disputes), but at the same time issue the chargeback through my CC company.
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 1:32 pm
  #102  
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Programs: Alaska MPV, Qatar Airways SIlver
Posts: 8
I had a round trip flight from Amman to Milos in April and I was checking it religiously. I knew I wouldn't be able to take it due to the situation and luckily I saw that it was cancelled on March 15th. I did not receive any notification of it being cancelled (I still haven't) but I called in immediately that day to deal with it. This was in the time where they were still offering refunds, and I'm wondering if anyone else was able to process a refund before their change to vouchers? They said 25-30 days, but I never received a confirmation despite asking the CSR for an email confirmation saying my flight was cancelled and a refund was in process. Has anyone's refund posted? Do you think that Aegean would go back and prevent refunds from processing before they instituted their credit voucher change? I also have another flight for June that hasn't been cancelled yet and I'm dreading dealing with that one...
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Old Mar 22, 2020, 1:35 pm
  #103  
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Originally Posted by blackball
The worst case that can happen is that the EU decides to suddenly reverse 261/2004 (not likely)
There's nothing sudden in reversing EC261 (or changing any EU law for that matter). Any change would require a reform of the existing regulation which only the European Commission could initiate (and they have arguably no interest in doing so), would need to be affirmed by both the Council (representing member states' governments) and the European Parliament (which has always pushed for strenghening passenger rights as it is doing right now in the ongoing rail passenger rights reform and would probably not agree to any loosening), so this would take months if not years. EC261 being a regulation (and not a directive) means that there's not even room for member states to change the passenger rights nationally, because anything contrary to EU law would be superseded by it.

Long story short, airlines will not get out of their passenger rights obligations even though this crisis is hitting them hard and might push some over the brink. They will of course do everything to exploit the lack of knowledge on the side of consumers, many of them will just take the voucher instead of cash, because they don't know about their rights. That they're playing for time now also shouldn't come as a surprise, but in the end, if an airlines goes bankrupt, it doesn't matter whether you have a worthless voucher or never got the cash reimbursement. In that case, you're simply out of luck!
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Old Mar 23, 2020, 8:48 am
  #104  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: ARN
Programs: A3*G, SK*G
Posts: 336
Originally Posted by blackball
In any case, I will put my request in writing (in case I need to have proof for later disputes), but at the same time issue the chargeback through my CC company.
Although I have contemplated resorting to that, since it's the answer that fits their attitude, as an A3*G I would still hold my horses for a while. If A3 wants to react aggressively to your chargeback request, they may even go as far as cancelling your M&B account.

Has some other fellow FT with A3 status any experience with initiating a chargeback claims against A3?
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Old Mar 23, 2020, 8:56 am
  #105  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: ARN
Programs: A3*G, SK*G
Posts: 336
Originally Posted by unusualtravelblog
To be clear this is not only about Aegean but all EU airlines
Not according to my experience. SK has readily agreed to refund all my tickets that they've cancelled so far without any issues. For simple bookings this was done online simply by filling in your name and PNR and clicking on an "Apply for refund" button. For a more complicated multi-city booking (which included two TATL and two short-haul flights) that I had made through their call center, I received an email from SK informing me of the cancellation and offering me the choice between rerouting, a voucher, or a refund (I chose the latter). I notified that my money will be refunded in a week. Impeccable customer-minded service amid a thunderstorm... My in-laws were even able to receive a full refund for a cancelled Norwegian (DY) flight. Yes, Norwegian! The almost bankrupt airline, with the notoriously non-existent IrrOps management is handling the present situation better than A3 is.

I feel truly sad about Aegean. I have been in love with this airline ever since I first flew with them, and I always deemed them to be among the best in Europe. Most of us A3 frequent flyers/enthusiasts have notice the downturn they've taken in the last couple of years (ASR/seat selection fees for A3*G-even during check in, downgraded J meals, reduced Y service, an overnight award miles devaluation without even informing their customers that this happened, etc...) but I could never even dare think that they would go so low, basically hit rock bottom. They are practically withholding money that is not theirs, and this even includes the amount for taxes that was refunded to them by the airport companies when A3 cancelled their flights... There is a specific word for taking money that is not yours Aegean. And no, the present situation is no excuse for that.

Dear A3 managers, please get hold of yourselves! The world hopefully is not going to be over any time soon. And if the present COVID-19 situation is prolonged, then almost every airline will need to be bailed out anyway. And you will need to keep A3 afloat when all this is eventually over. But then you will realize that you have destroyed a brand name that took years to build. You will also realize then that the only way to convince passengers to choose A3 over Ryanair or any random sleazyjet is to start offering sleazyjet prices, practically turning A3 into an LCC. While writing this it's still unthinkable that I am comparing A3 to Norwegian or Ryanair...
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