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Airlines may be forced to green-light automatic refunds for disrupted travelers

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Airlines may be forced to green-light automatic refunds for inconvenienced travelers

  • Calls for automatic flight refunds are mounting amid half-term travel chaos
  • Customers currently need to apply individually to flight operators
  • A government report has recommended forcing operators to pay compensation

Airlines could be forced to automatically refund holidaymakers for travel disruptions under plans being considered by ministers.

At the moment, travelers have to manually request refunds and some who struggle to get them are forced to hire claims management companies.

Some operators have claimed that cancellations or delays are not their fault, and therefore they are not obliged to refund.

However, automatic refunds will not take place this summer as it will take months for the legislation to be approved by Parliament.

UK consumers currently have to manually request compensation from their airline if their flight is delayed or cancelled

Whitehall sources said officials were looking into introducing automatic refunds to bring aviation in line with the rail industry

Whitehall sources said officials were looking into introducing automatic refunds to bring aviation in line with the rail industry

It comes at a time when thousands of airport holidaymakers have endured chaos at airports, with hundreds of flights canceled or delayed in recent days.

There is also fear of chaos this summer if travel bosses fail to get a handle on a staff shortage crisis within six weeks. This is when the peak season of summer begins.

Whitehall sources said officials were looking at how automatic refunds could be introduced to bring aviation in line with the rail industry.

Travelers have complained in recent weeks that some operators are claiming cancellations or delays were not their fault, and therefore not liable to pay refunds.

They have reported having to wait weeks for refunds after some operators were inundated with requests. A new system should get around this.

Last month, a report by the House of Commons Transport Committee recommended forcing operators to pay automatic compensation.

The report states: “Even when airline passengers are entitled to refunds, they may struggle to get the refunds they owe.

EasyJet is just one of many airlines that canceled a large number of flights this week

EasyJet is just one of many airlines that canceled a large number of flights this week

‘These challenges apply to both individual passengers and travelers who book flights through third parties.

“Accessing airline refunds has been a long-standing challenge for consumers, predating the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s why consumers sometimes hire claims management companies (CMCs) to get refunds they’re entitled to.

“The government should put in place a mechanism to ensure that when airline passengers are legally entitled to a refund, they receive automatic compensation, eliminating the need for customers to manually request a refund.”

Rocio Concha, policy director at consumer champion Which?, said: “Bad passenger treatment by some airlines has become routine – as we saw with carriers ignoring their legal obligations regarding refunds, diversion and passenger rights during the pandemic and the recent chaos on our airports .

“There is a lot of work to be done to restore consumer confidence and the government needs to implement reforms that work for passengers.”

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