Airlines & infringement on consumer rights and protections

Airlines & infringement on consumer rights and protections

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Refund Passengers EU started this petition to EU Commission and

5 May 2020

To:

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Parliament David Sassoli

Vice President of Values and Transparency Vera Jourova

Commissioner of Transport Adina Valean

Members of the European Commission

Members of the European Parliament

 

We are writing to express our deep concern and disappointment over a consideration to allow airlines to issue vouchers for flights cancelled by the airlines.

We hope that you will stand to protect consumers, and will ask that the airlines issue full monetary refunds promptly.

In the recent weeks, the airlines have been cancelling flights. We understand the difficult position airlines found themselves in. However, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc among consumers, too. Many of us has lost our jobs, and we are no longer able to pay for daily bills. In the meantime, many airlines have unilaterally decided to withhold millions of EUROs from us and our families by issuing vouchers.

Vouchers are not and will never be a suitable substitution for the following reasons:

  • Consumer protection. Consumers have an inherent right for prompt refunds when a product or service is not delivered. This applies to airlines when they cancel flights.
  • Open market and competition protection. When an airline cancels flights, a passenger has the right to purchase an alternative trip at a competing airline. The passenger cannot be forced to use a specific airline in the future.
  • Passengers are not financial institutions to issue interest-free loans. It is airlines’ responsibility to maintain the funds from the tickets in reserve, until passengers have made use of their tickets. These reserves cannot be used for any other purpose which suits the airlines in disposing these funds.
  • Vouchers offer no guarantees for future flights at the same price. Airlines can dictate the prices. Therefore, a today’s voucher for a specific amount may turn out to be worthless in the future.
  • Voucher offer no guarantees to passengers when airlines go bankrupt. Vouchers are not bound by any contract between a passenger and an airline. Therefore, a voucher puts a passenger at a disadvantage when it comes to recovering the funds.

I hope that you will stand to protect consumers and will reaffirm the following:

  • A passenger has an inherent right to choose between a voucher and a full monetary refund for flights cancelled by the airlines, irrespective of the reasons.
  • Airlines have a responsibility to issue full monetary refunds within 7 days.
  • The establishment of the European enforcement agency that will monitor and enforce the laws by issuing penalties to airlines for violating the law.
  • Airlines can and should make their vouchers more attractive to passengers. Some examples include changing the dates of travel free of charge for any date chosen by a passenger, extra bonuses, etc.
  • Airlines should be encouraged to restructure their finances to keep passengers’ money in reserve until passengers complete their flights.
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