The recent failure of high-profile airlines, such as Monarch, Flybmi and WOW Air, have meant that hundreds of thousands of people have been faced with the prospect of losing their money or being stranded at their holiday destination. If you ever find yourself in the same position, there are a number of things you can do to make sure you’re not left out of pocket – or out of the country!
The first thing to do if you have heard that your airline has gone bust is to contact your travel agent – if you booked your holiday with one – to see if the booking you made is still in place. If it is, then your travel arrangements should be relatively unaffected.
If you’re abroad when the airline goes bust, then arranging and paying for flights home will depend on whether you are ATOL-protected or not. If you are, then you will be guaranteed a refund and will be put on an alternative flight home at no extra cost. If you are not ATOL-protected however, you will have to book an alternative flight and pay for it yourself. In some cases there may be special ‘repatriation fares’ available so make sure you check with different airlines, as well as your travel insurance company.
Depending on the type of travel insurance you may have signed up for, you can protect yourself against flight companies going out of business, as well as the cancellation of your flight.
You could claim against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. To be eligible for protection from your credit card, you need to have paid more than £100 for your flights and booked directly with the airline themselves.
Claiming for a refund on a debit card booking is a bit trickier than if you used your credit card
If you have paid by a debit card, you may be able to claim through the Mastercard and Visa Chargeback scheme, which most high street banks have signed up to. This allows you to ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your debit card, giving you your money back.
Unfortunately, airline financial failure or insolvency is rarely included on most travel insurance policies. However, there is no single rule for this and so you should consult your own travel insurance provider to check their approach to airline failure.
If the flights have been booked through a third party, such as a travel agent or a tour operator, you have an additional useful source for information and advice. They will likely have customers in the same situation, so they will be able to advise you and help you book new flights – if that’s what you want.
In the UK, many large travel agents are able to offer trip cancellation guarantees on tickets that they sell under the ATOL scheme; so always ask if they offer such protection when you book with them. If they offer a private guarantee, check to see if they cover airline bankruptcies as some guarantees will only cover cancellations caused by severe weather and mandatory evacuations.
If your flight was delayed, cancelled or overbooked, you may be eligible for compensation. To find out more, please contact us today and a member of the Sarah Waddington Solicitors team will be in touch regarding your claim.