European Commission: major online travel agencies commit to refund within 14 days for cancelled flights

Following talks with the European Commission (EC) and national consumer authorities (CPC network), three major online travel agencies have committed to better inform consumers of their rights in the event of flight cancellations by airlines and to transfer ticket refunds within seven days after receiving them from the airlines, meaning that consumers should receive them after a total of 14 days, the EC said on June 27.

Under EU passenger rights, airlines cancelling a flight are required to refund tickets within seven days once the passenger has opted to have the flight reimbursed.

However, airline tickets can also be bought through an intermediary (an “online travel agency”).

“As a result of this dialogue, the three major European airline intermediaries provide clarity for such cases: consumers will receive their refund within 14 days maximum. This step also helps create a fair and level playing field within the travel airline industry,” the EC said.

This action complements a previous dialogue with 16 major European airlines that resulted in those airlines committing to respect the seven-day time limit for reimbursements, and reimbursing over 500 000 flight vouchers that they had imposed on consumers following flight cancellations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2021 dialogue with the airlines had cast a spotlight on additional delays experienced by consumers when cancelled tickets had been purchased through an intermediary.

The online travel agencies concerned by the action are eDreams ODIGEO (with brands such as eDreams, Opodo, Go Voyages, Travellink, and Liligo); Etraveli Group (with brands such as Mytrip, GotoGate, Flybillet, Flightnetwork, Supersavetravel, seat24 and Travelstart); and The action originally also addressed Otravo that, however, ceased operations in December 2022.

Following the dialogue, the online travel agencies made several commitments, the EC said.

One is that in case of cancelled flights, the online travel agencies will transfer refunds from the airline on to the consumer within 7 days from the day the online travel agency receives the refund from the airline.

This will result in a refund in 14 days for consumers having bought their ticket through an online travel agency. Remaining backlogs in transferring refunds received from airlines have been or will be cleared by June 30 2023 at the latest.

The second commitment is that the online travel agencies’ telephone number and e-mail address will be provided in or via the support or “contact us” sections of their websites – so that consumers can communicate with them also via e-mail or telephone.

The third is that information on the specific benefits linked to different service packages offered by the online travel agencies will be made clearer for consumers.

A further commitment is that 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 fifth commitment is that consumers will be clearly informed about the consequences that specific services offered by airline intermediaries can have on the consumer’s rights in the event of a flight disruption ( for example, that contact details may not have been transferred to the airlines, or that when only one leg of a trip is cancelled, the second leg may still have to be paid where there is no interlink between the flights constituting the journey).

The three major European airline intermediaries agreed to introduce the changes to its practices ahead of the upcoming summer holiday season, by June 30 2023, the EC said.

(Photo: Sofia Airport)

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