Covid 19 and air-passengers' rights
Due to the rapid spread of the new Covid 19, countries along the world have taken extraordinary measures - closing the borders, restricting travel, and suspending the work of numerous companies. Certainly, the airline business is seriously affected too as thousands of flights are canceled and even more air-passengers are damaged.
Throughout these days, Sky Lawyer receives numerous messages and questions from fellow travelers about the rights in these circumstances. We tried to accommodate all relevant advice and information as well as the answers to frequently asked questions for our customers in this blog.
Am I entitled to compensation if my flight was canceled due to Corona Virus?
The answer is straightforward - No. The coronavirus is considered an "extraordinary circumstance" beyond the airline's controls. Therefore, in this case, the airlines have no duty to pay compensation for a canceled flight. Even if the airline failed to inform the passenger about the cancelation at least 14 days in advance before the flight, airlines are still discharged from the compensation liability.
Note that the flights were canceled as a result of the government's decisions to close the borders and suspend flights and airlines are bound to obey these decisions. Even if relevant authorities have not taken such a decision, the airline is still entitled to cancel the flight in order to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew. Even in such cases, the airlines are discharged from the compensation liability.
What rights do I have if my flight was canceled due to Corona Virus?
If the flight was canceled due to coronavirus, the passenger is entitled to request the following from the airline:
(1) A full refund of the ticket price
(2) Free alternative flight
Note that if your flight consisted of several legs and you used some part of that flight, the airlines are obligated to refund the ticket price proportionally to the flight which was canceled.
What if an airline has not offered me a full refund of the ticket price or a free alternative flight?
Many airlines have already contacted their passengers and informed them about the right to choose between these options, but some of them still have not managed to contact their passengers. We advise you to contact the airline by yourselves using the contact information provided airline's web-page or through their social media channels and raise your concern.
What if an airline has only offered me a free alternative flight and refuses to fully refund the ticket price?
The airlines are obligated to give their passenger a choice between two options - a full refund of the ticket price or a free alternative flight ticket. This is the right of the passenger to choose one out of these options and airlines cannot coerce passengers to choose the option beneficial for the airline. If your airline refuses to fully refund the ticket price or only offers you a free alternative ticket, you should know that this is a violation of your right and you are entitled to request the full refund of the ticket price. In such cases, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will assist you in obtaining your full ticket refund.
How much time it may take to get a ticket refund or free alternative flight?
Due to the recent situation, the airlines have to work in extraordinary circumstances, receive and process thousands of claims from their passengers daily. Some of the airlines have even temporarily suspended the acceptance of claims. We estimate that the refund process will be significantly slowed down. It's impossible to state the exact time as it is largely dependent on each airline. Nevertheless, we advise you to be patient and expect that the airline may take longer than usual to respond to your claims.
What if my airline is unresponsive or I can not contact them?
As stated above, airlines have significantly slowed down the pace of processing the claims and answering your questions. If you have purchased the ticket from a travel agency, we advise you to contact them and try to get help there. It's also a good idea to check your personal profile on the airline's web-page as some of the airlines have enabled their passengers to reschedule their flight or ask for a refund automatically through the web-page. We also advise you to check our airlines' social media channels or their Q&A sections, as many of them have already made a statement about the refund process that may answer your question.
If your question was not answered above, you can contact us at email@example.com and we will try to assist you as soon as possible. Remember that we work on NO WIN NO FEE basis - we only get paid for our work if we make the Airline pay to its passengers. Here you can read more about our pricing policy.