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Coronavirus: Money back for Ryanair and Sykes customers

Corinna Baker-Sinclair

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Corinna Baker-Sinclair

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Corinna Baker-Sinclair says Sykes should have acted earlier

Ryanair will clear 90% of its backlog of cash refunds by the end of July for people who were unable to travel during lockdown.

It was heavily criticised, along with other airlines, for its failure to pay those entitled to a refund anytime close to the seven-day legal deadline.

Ryanair said it had made “significant progress” in clearing the backlog for those booked with the airline directly.

Meanwhile, Sykes Cottages has also vowed to offer refunds.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that, until recently, the holiday lettings firm had been refusing to provide full cash refunds to all customers whose break had to be cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

It had faced a backlash from customers unhappy with their treatment regarding holidays booked during lockdown too.

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Reuters

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The airline sector has been severely hit by the coronavirus crisis

Airline passengers who have had flights cancelled have the right to rebook, accept a voucher for future travel, or receive a refund.

Ryanair customers complained that the airline had made it difficult to claim the refund option, and the airline later said it had faced unprecedented demand from travellers wanting their money back.

Now it has said extra staff were trained to clear the backlog, and that it was processing refunds “as fast as we can”.

“We are pleased to have made such significant progress over the month of June in eliminating the backlog of cash refunds due to the Covid-19 flight cancellations,” said Ryanair’s chief executive Eddie Wilson.

“Over 90% of passengers who booked directly with Ryanair and who requested a cash refund for travel between March and June will receive their refunds before the end of July.”

What are my rights?

  • If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines will be struggling to meet that deadline. You can accept, or refuse, vouchers or a rebooking but a voucher will probably be invalid if the airline later goes bust
  • If you decide against going on a future flight, which is not yet cancelled, then there is no right to a refund. Different airlines have different rules over what you can do, but many are waiving any charges for changing to a later flight or having a voucher instead. Your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you
  • If you have a package holiday cancelled by the provider, then a refund should be provided for the whole holiday within 14 days

Sykes’ legal promise

Holiday lettings firm Sykes Cottages has changed its policy in recent days and has now given a formal undertaking to the CMA to refund customers whose holidays could not go ahead, and to convert credit vouchers to cash, assuming the voucher has not been used.

If the company had not changed its policy, the watchdog said it could have launched court proceedings against it.

The commitments apply to several businesses and brands owned by Sykes, including the Pure Cottages Group and Carbis Bay Holidays, as well as Sykes Cottages itself.

Corinna Baker-Sinclair, from Winsford in Cheshire, was one of those seeking a refund.

“I was really pleased. I was glad that I was getting my money back, but also by the same token it’s been such a long, stressful time,” she told BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme.

“I had absolute sympathy for all companies who found themselves in a terrible situation, however I just feel that Sykes handled the response just so badly.”

Graham Donoghue, chief executive of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “The last few months have been some of the most stressful for UK holidaymakers and most challenging for the sector’s agents and operators.

“While the majority of customers with bookings starting during the current lockdown period have successfully rearranged their holiday to a later date, we recognise that not all those have been able to or wanted to. Throughout June, more than 5,000 customers have received a full refund.

“Like many parts of the leisure industry, we have worked with the CMA, but the wheels were in motion on this before they got in touch.”

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