Many airways in northern Europe have struggled to fulfill their refund obligations because the coronavirus pandemic noticed an unprecedented variety of flight cancellations.
Scandinavian Airways (SAS) is among the many worst offenders, with many shoppers ready greater than 5 months for the refund of usually substantial quantities of cash. Shopper authorities in Sweden and Norway are among the many airline’s harshest critics.
Shopper laws in each international locations requires airways to refund a canceled flight inside seven days, though totally different guidelines are in place for bundle holidays and flights booked by way of journey brokers.
One couple who had a visit to Turkey canceled in mid-March instructed NRK that the refund was nonetheless excellent greater than five months later. The social media accounts of SAS are clogged with buyer complaints, with many additionally reporting delays of greater than 5 months.
The Norwegian Shopper Council described the scenario as “unacceptable” and has referred to as on the Civil Aviation Authority to challenge fines.
A statement from the Council mentioned that it understands that the COVID-19 disaster has hit tourism onerous, however the airways have now had “greater than sufficient time” to type it out: “The truth that the airways nonetheless don’t adjust to and respect established and primary client rights is an unacceptable scenario. This impacts many customers, and for a lot of there are massive quantities concerned.”
The Council additionally reminds customers that if the journey was paid by bank card, you possibly can contact the bank card supplier to request a chargeback.
One SAS buyer instructed Expressen they obtained a refund simply two days after making a fraud complaint to the Swedish police.
SAS: Refunds “will likely be paid”
Regardless of the lengthy ready record and rumors of severe financial trouble, the airline insists that everybody entitled to a refund will get their a reimbursement. “I perceive that many shoppers are pissed off and that many have needed to wait a very long time,” says SAS Norway spokesperson John Eckhoff, who insists that SAS has refunded a couple of million clients.
Nevertheless, lots of the refunds already processed had been within the type of a voucher for future flights somewhat than money. Whereas saying such vouchers are an choice for frequent vacationers, the Norwegian Shopper Council referred to as them “unsecured loans to airways.”
Eckhoff explains the airline is growing its capability for dealing with refunds: “We course of greater than 5,000 circumstances a day, and have elevated the capability of our customer support to 200 individuals.”
SAS persists with guide processing
SAS is hardly alone in struggling to fulfill its obligations through the pandemic. Nevertheless, different airways together with Star Alliance companions Lufthansa and fierce rivals Norwegian Air appear to be dealing with claims extra rapidly. Many shoppers with each airways have reported ready instances of a number of weeks, somewhat than months, regardless of preliminary guide processing of most claims.
Dagens Næringsliv reported that Norwegian has now improved its refund system to routinely course of claims, together with for bookings made by journey brokers. Norwegian CEO Jacob Schram has promised all excellent refunds will likely be paid throughout September and October.
SAS made no touch upon why they can not routinely course of refunds like different airways or when excellent refunds will likely be paid. Nevertheless, a current report in Dagens Næringsliv means that some clients must wait up to nine months.