British Airways and Ryanair are officially under investigation that they treated customers unfairly during the pandemic by not offering them refunds on flights.
You Competition and Market Authority (CMA) said it was looking to see if the two airlines had violated the consumer law and indicated that it was on the side of consumers on this issue. He has opened enforcement cases in both companies.
So these are just flights canceled due to the pandemic?
No, these are flights that have not been canceled. Huge numbers of flights were canceled, particularly in the early months of the coronavirus crisis, and consumer experts have always said the rules in this area are clear: If a flight is canceled by an airline, full refunds are due, to be processed within seven business days. While that hasn’t stopped some airlines from offering vouchers to people and the like.
Where things get more complicated is if a flight went ahead as planned, but a passenger could not legally board it because a local or national blockade meant it was illegal for them to travel for non-essential reasons.
This is what the CMA is looking at. At the height of the lockdowns, several airlines continued to fly to and from UK airports, meaning these trips were not canceled.
So what is the CMA saying?
Said during lockdown periods across the UK, BA and Ryanair refused to grant refunds to persons who were “lawfully unable to fly”, with BA offering vouchers or rebooking, and Ryanair providing the possibility to rebook.
The CMA said it feared that by not offering people their money back, both airlines may have “unfairly left people out of pocket.”
Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA, said: “Customers booked these flights in good faith and were legally unable to take them due to circumstances completely beyond their control. We believe these people should have been offered their money back ”.
What are the rules in this area?
They are not clear, hence the involvement of the CMA. There is an argument that airlines are only obliged to refund customers if they cancel a flight.
Objective in May 2020Richard Colbey, a Lamb Chambers attorney, told the Guardian that the fact that it was illegal to go on vacation abroad meant that the contract between the passenger and the airline could be considered “frustrated.” This means that neither party is bound by it and all payments made must be refunded.
It seems that the CMA can share this point of view.
What happens now?
The regulator said it was trying to resolve these concerns with companies, “which could include seeking refunds or other adjustments for affected customers.”
The CMA does not have the power to impose fines on companies, but it can take companies to court.
Ryanair said it dealt with refund requests “on a case-by-case basis” and paid refunds in “justified cases”. BA said it issued more than 3 million refunds during the pandemic and criticized government policies and travel regulations.