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July 2, 2023

Online Travel Agencies to Start Refunding Costs of Cancelled Flights

The national consumer authorities (CPC network), Edreams ODIGEO, Etraveli Group and Kiwi.com have vowed to better inform consumers of their rights in case of flight cancellations by airlines and complete ticket refunds within seven days after receiving the funds from airlines. This leaves a total of 14 days for consumers to be able to receive their ticket refunds.

The online travel agencies made these commitments during a dialogue with the European Commission and some areas that are expected to change include older transactions transferring refunds received from airlines by 30 June 2023, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In addition, all online travel agencies will have to provide their phone number and email address on their website so consumers can communicate their concerns or requests with ease.

“Consumers will be clearly informed about their statutory rights under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation to rerouting or reimbursement in cases where the airline cancels their flights. They will also be clearly informed if the flight was cancelled,” the press release by the EU Commission explains.

Other changes that online travel agencies are expected to apply following the dialogue include making information about specific benefits of different service packages transparent.

Online travel agencies will also have to let consumers know about the exact consequences that some services can have on the consumer’s rights in case of flight disruptions, which can include cases when contact details haven’t been received by airlines or when the second leg in a two-leg trip has to be paid even if the first leg was cancelled.

These changes are expected to become effective by June 30, in time for the upcoming holiday season.

As following procedures, the authorities will continue to monitor whether the three major European airline intermediaries have implemented the commitments and the network will be monitoring compliance by airlines and their commitments under the CPC action against 16 major airlines that occurred in 2021.

“We will closely follow up and check how passengers will be reimbursed or paid compensation if relevant to ensure a strict and diligent application of EU rules,” Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders said.

In July, the EU Commission informed that over 500,000 flight vouchers were reimbursed for their cancelled trips during the COVID-19 pandemic by 16 major European airlines.

The EU Commission is currently reviewing the Package Travel Directive as well as the Passenger rights rules, with the situation in the COVID-19 pandemic, when thousands of passengers were left stranded or unable to fly, being the determination key for this engagement. The Commission is expected to finalise and present its proposals throughout 2023.