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COVID-19: refund provided as voucher (for non refundable fares)

Old Apr 6, 2020, 7:58 am
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European Commission EC261/2004 guidelines in context of COVD-19 dated 18 MAR 2020
US DoT Enforcement Notice regarding refunds dated 3 APR 2020.
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COVID-19: refund provided as voucher (for non refundable fares)

Old Mar 30, 2020, 7:49 am
  #136  
 
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Originally Posted by Carpacchio
Ok - that was quick: they sent me a reimbursement memo over the full amount without further comment. So not sure whether it was an erroneous assessment of the first agent, or they just tried with the voucher and gave up then...
Anyone else had the same resolution than Carpacchio here?
If quoting the law is enough to get a refund, then we're all good, right?

FYI I'm in the same situation, I have a CDG-MIA/JFK-CDG coming up in April, both legs canceled by AF.

EDITED TO ADD:
Curiously enough, even though their information page (https://www.airfrance.fr/FR/en/commo...air-france.htm) still mentions a voucher, the "form" (https://www.airfrance.fr/FR/en/local...-remboursement) specifically mentions a refund, and even asks you what kind of refund you would like (credit card, wire transfer), etc.

Last edited by Benjh; Mar 30, 2020 at 8:03 am
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 8:07 am
  #137  
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Originally Posted by vinnyc
Hello bostontraveler,

I understand your frustration, and with respect to this topic, where there seems to be two opposing views, I am part of the group who thinks that Air France (or any other E.U. airline), as much difficult the current situation and exceptional the circumstances are, should make the full refund as an available option in case of flight cancellation.

Being a loyal customer and realizing that the liquidity crunch at the treasury level is obviously critical, I can decide to entertain the option of a voucher to help the company, but as many posters have pointed out before me, this should be my choice and not the airline imposing it on me.

In that, I respectfully disagree with Goldorak (despite recognizing him as an amazing contributor to this forum) and am siding with NickB.

There are other ways where I can, should I decide it, help and support Air France: purchasing through my brokerage account any corporate obligations Air France might issue in order to raise liquidity, purchasing AFKLM shares (should AFKLM decide to tap the equity market) etc...

Finally, it is worth noting that Air France has several emergency funding sources:

1. the corporate revolving credit facilities: working as an investment banker (previously in aviation finance and counting various airlines & lessors as clients), I can tell you that those are the most challenging products, because they are often not economically attractive, but you (as a bank) get drawn, sometimes preemptively, at the worst moment, especially during a crisis. AF, as well as the other airlines, esp. in the U.S. should be able to access a lot of liquidity, if not already done (United Airlines has even increased the size of its RCF two weeks ago). Those RCFs are there as a proof of goodwill from banks and for corporate relationship reasons.

2. the ECB plan stimulus in France: €2.1 trillion lent to banks (and partially guaranteed by the French government) in order to lend to corporates, in order to flood corporates treasury coffers with short/medium term liquidity.

All in, although we are going through exceptional times, I have reasons to believe that, at least for the coming months, liquidity will not be a life-or-death matter (profitability is another question), and this does not justify holding customers money hostage.

To finish, I find it unfair to call brunos comments arrogant. To be fair, I have always found his posts very balanced and nuanced, and he was merely thinking out loud. No reason to attack him.

I sincerely hope you will get the refund for which you are legitimately entitled (by law) to receive, and please do keep us posted!

Cheers,
vinnyc
Thanks for your comments.

There was no attack on anyone. My language is quite clear.

I too have found brunos' comments very useful. However, not so much here.

As NickB duly noted-- one of the unsettling things in this discussion-- is the tone of some that have simply been dismissive and condescending, as if we the customers are wrong and that the issue isn't a valid one.
Here:

"What I find silly is that some are crying wolf because they don't get their cash back in 7 days and threaten immediately suing the airline.
Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and mine is to find those repeated legal threats ridiculous.
NickB, I hope that your grandiose view of a global coordinated financial action across continents will materialize, as opposed to a country by country approach. "

and here:
"One can rant and rant..."

Clearly some people see Flyertalk differently. I see it as a practical forum to discuss challenges and opportunities and to find solutions where there may be solutions. Maybe there are few in this case but that is the whole point of having a discussion.

(not directed at you personally...-->) Not important to you? Fine, then move onto a different thread. But contribute something of value. Don't just stick around to just poke the messenger and poo-poo other people's concerns. That's not productive and that's what I object to.
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 8:32 am
  #138  
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It's quite astounding that Amex France is refusing to dispute charges, citing that AF is a partner.
Amex just told you that on the phone. I doubt that Amex will give you such a statement in writing, hence, I'd recommend again to file for a chargeback (via a written form).
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 10:15 am
  #139  
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Cannot stress enough the importance of following each country's specific chargeback requirements. Calling in is a nice convenience in ordinary times. But, properly filing the request with the backup documentation, e.g. copy of the e-ticket, copy of the COC provision, copy of the relevant EC 261/2004 provision, and demonstration that the flight was cancelled (screenshot from identifiable AF website?), all make it hard for a card issuer (bank) to simply refuse.

I would never let the assertion of a single front-line employee speak for the entire enterprise.
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 11:29 am
  #140  
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Originally Posted by Winniesbestfriend
I have so far had 4 flights cancelled, first KLM rebooked one, which was cancelled again the day after. They offered me vouchers, I told them under EC261/2004 they should refund me like I requested and they are still refusing.
Today the Dutch goverment has announced that airlines will be permitted to issue vouchers in lieu of a refund. Although acknowledging that this is in breach of the law, the government had decided to nevertheless tolerate the airlines' voucher schemes, but on condition that the airlines by default issue refunds for all unused vouchers after 12 months, i.e. without customers having to ask first.

Johan
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 11:33 am
  #141  
 
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If it's of interest to people here, on the EU side a group of parliamentarians sent a letter on this issue to the Commissioner for Transport today asking them to make airlines comply with the law, but also with some potential softeners for the industry. See the letter here -

Edit - I see the link didn't post. It's on Twitter under RenewEurope twitter handle.

There's an awareness of the issue, and as EU261 is a directly applying regulation means the Commission can suggest an amendment to the legislation allowing airlines more time to process refund (or offer credit note until cash flows stabilise). Probably not what most want to hear, but at least it's being talked about and the pressure on the Commission isn't just from the airline industry.

Bear in mind that if the Commission proposes amendments to the legislation temporarily to deal with this, e.g extend the period for giving refunds, the Parliament has to approve it, and I suspect that if there was an attempt to allow airlines a get out clause via a voucher for a year, that wouldn't pass the parliament.
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 12:04 pm
  #142  
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Originally Posted by brunos
But I realize that times are exceptional, and understand/accept airlines' behavior.
I could perhaps understand this from an airline, or more generally a business, which is genuinely on the point of collapse or in genuine danger of falling under. But, again, this is simply not the case of AFKL. It would not seem to me at all acceptable for AFKL to unilaterally refuse to pay its suppliers, for instance, or unilaterally appropriate money from its customers.
Originally Posted by brunos
But as Presidents Macron, Trump and many others stated, this is war time.
Metaphors can be useful but they should not be a pretext to suspend judgment. In this context as in every context in which "war" is used as a metaphor, one can get a little too carried away with one's metaphors. Calling something a "war" is not an excuse for allowing large businesses to consider themselves to be above the law and abuse their power to unilaterally decide to appropriate monies that belongs to others with less power than them.
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 12:38 pm
  #143  
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Originally Posted by vinnyc
In that, I respectfully disagree with Goldorak (despite recognizing him as an amazing contributor to this forum) and am siding with NickB.
Hello vinnnyc,
thank you for your post. There is certainly nothing wrong disagreeing with me . This forum is here to express respectfully different opinions and this is how we progress. You are a concrete example of this
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 10:04 pm
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Originally Posted by NickB
Calling something a "war" is not an excuse for allowing large businesses to consider themselves to be above the law and abuse their power to unilaterally decide to appropriate monies that belongs to others with less power than them.
The 'war' angle (hyperbole and all) is irrelevant to the situation. If it were, the non-refundable nature of the ticket would not matter, and should have never been cited by AF as the factor to deny refund.
A passenger has no business bailing out an airline, war on peace.
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Old Mar 30, 2020, 11:08 pm
  #145  
 
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AMEX NL (Flying Blue Platinum AMEX) accepted chargeback and issued full refund within 5 calendar days of calling them and sending them just the ticket confirmation and the notification of cancellation from KLM.
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Old Mar 31, 2020, 2:34 am
  #146  
 
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Originally Posted by Goldorak
Hello vinnnyc,
thank you for your post. There is certainly nothing wrong disagreeing with me . This forum is here to express respectfully different opinions and this is how we progress. You are a concrete example of this
Do you really mean that? Because in the main forum thread this was your closing response to me after I disagreed with you:

Originally Posted by Goldorak
You should take a break...
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Old Mar 31, 2020, 5:57 am
  #147  
 
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Originally Posted by palmanfr
Est exclue de son champ d'application la vente des titres de transports par ailleurs rglemente par le droit international et la lgislation de l'Union europenne sur les droits des passagers ;

This means that is excluded from the rules above the sell of transportation tickets (flight or train tickets for instance) where the regulation is governed by international legislation (let's say Montreal or Vienna convention for instance) and the EU regulations related to passenger rights (EU261/2004 namely).

So this "ordonnance" (translate this by presidential/governement order) will cover for all travel related purchases besides transportation tickets, such as plane or train tickets. That's my understanding.
And for the record AF has been offereing refundable vouchers (after a year - do not know if this is mentioned on the voucher though) for over a week now in case the flight cancellation is from them.
I know that those refundable vouchers are also given in case of overbooking situations (a couple years back, my mom got one at the airport when she got bumped off the flight as it was full. The term refundable meant that visiting a local AF office or counter resulted in a cash refund, in exchange to that voucher. I am wondering if the same applies here.

One thing is for sure, is that KLM gave me yesterday a NON-REFUNDABLE voucher for a couple flights they decided to cancel this week end. And that, I am arguing with !
KLM voucher rules say that voucher is refundable if not used on the expiry date:

2. Request a travel voucher

If you choose to postpone your trip, we will provide you with a refund in the form of a travel voucher. You can use this voucher as a payment method to purchase a new ticket at a later time.
  • Your travel voucher is valid to use within 1 year after the date of issue and can be used on KLM, Air France, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic flights.
  • You can use your voucher to book a flight that takes place after the expiration date of the voucher.
  • If your flight has been cancelled by the airline, your travel voucher is refundable after 1 year from the date of issue. If youve requested a voucher while your flight was not cancelled by the airline, the travel voucher is non-refundable.
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Old Mar 31, 2020, 6:35 am
  #148  
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Today the Dutch goverment has announced that airlines will be permitted to issue vouchers in lieu of a refund. Although acknowledging that this is in breach of the law, the government had decided to nevertheless tolerate the airlines' voucher schemes, but on condition that the airlines by default issue refunds for all unused vouchers after 12 months, i.e. without customers having to ask first.
I am no expert in the Dutch Constitution and its Seperation of Power rules.
Usually, the Executive (government) does not have the right to alter legislation all by itself.
A Dutch court have to follow the law (which have been legislated), not some non-binding opinions of the Dutch Government.

the government had decided to nevertheless tolerate the airlines' voucher schemes
When it comes to tolerate voucher schemes we are talking about a civil case between the airline and the passenger. The government cannot interfere with that. Or -> the decision of the government to tolerate sth. mean nothing;
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Old Mar 31, 2020, 7:49 am
  #149  
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Originally Posted by martback
KLM voucher rules say that voucher is refundable if not used on the expiry date:

2. Request a travel voucher

If you choose to postpone your trip, we will provide you with a refund in the form of a travel voucher. You can use this voucher as a payment method to purchase a new ticket at a later time.
  • Your travel voucher is valid to use within 1 year after the date of issue and can be used on KLM, Air France, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic flights.
  • You can use your voucher to book a flight that takes place after the expiration date of the voucher.
  • If your flight has been cancelled by the airline, your travel voucher is refundable after 1 year from the date of issue. If youve requested a voucher while your flight was not cancelled by the airline, the travel voucher is non-refundable.
I suppose that a voucher which is said to be refundable at some date in the future is better than none. But, it does not comply with either KL's contract or EC 261/2004, in the event of a flight cancelled by the carrier.

If the passenger wants a refund, he is due a refund in seven days. Even if tt understandably takes a bit longer, that does not mean a year. It is entirely possible that the passenger wishes to use the funds for some other purpose than travel given that the purpose for which he purchased the cancelled travel no longer exists.

Some carriers are offering a premium, e.g. a voucher for the face amount of the ticket plus a fixed sum or a percentage. That, at least is an incentive for the passenger to agree to accept the voucher in place of a refund. But, to suggest that a refund a year from now complies with the law is false.
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Old Mar 31, 2020, 7:58 am
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Originally Posted by Klems
I'm quite baffled at the amount of people
Would that be by weight or volume?
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