The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has conducted a review into airline refund practices during the Covid-19 pandemic and has found Virgin Atlantic to be one of the worst for delayed customer refunds.
A quote from the review, “Virgin Atlantic is one of the airlines that our review identified as not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly and as having a sizeable backlog of refund requests”. Some customers have had to wait 120 days to receive their refunds.
The CAA has given the airline until October to turn things around and could use enforcement powers if necessary.
From the CAA review..
Virgin Atlantic is one of the airlines that our review identified as not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly and as having a sizeable backlog of refund requests. In relation to refund processing timescales, at least initially the airline was taking up to 60 days to process refund requests. However, the airline’s performance became significantly worse and it provided a commitment to consumers that the maximum wait would be 120 days. The CAA was not satisfied with this level of performance and requested that Virgin Atlantic provide it with commitments to reduce the time taken to process refunds, such that they are processed in a reasonable timeframe and one which is aimed at the 7 day period set out in Regulation EC261/2004.
Virgin Atlantic has committed to reducing the maximum time taken to process a refund and it expects to process all claims made in August within 80 days, all claims made in September within 60 days and all claims made in October within 30 days. We recognise that even with these improvements to processing times it still results in a lengthy wait for consumers. However, we consider that the improvement in the processing time is a step forward and provides greater clarity for consumers. We will continue to work with Virgin Atlantic and push them for further improvements to the timescales. Given the extended timescales even in September and October, we will be monitoring Virgin’s performance particularly closely and will consider the use of formal enforcement powers if necessary.
EasyJet, Loganair, Ryanair and TUI, were all airlines that the review identified as not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly and as having a sizeable backlog of refund requests.
British Airways was identified as processing refunds relatively quickly, around 30 days. However passenger complaints indicate that there has been difficulty in contacting the airline to notify of a request for refund. British Airways has made changes to their customer helpline to ensure calls are not terminated, the CAA will continue the situation.
Aer Lingus was identified as processing refunds relatively quickly, around 30 – 40 days.
Air Transat, Etihad, Malaysia Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Westjet were all identified in the review, based on customer complaints, as not paying cash refunds. These airlines have confirmed to the CAA that they are now paying cash refunds. The CAA continues to monitor the performance of airlines.
The CAA Review identifies Jet2 as one of only three airlines to have been consistently processing cash refunds quickly and as having only a small backlog of refund requests. The other two being American Airlines and United Airlines.
The full CAA review can be see here.