Aer Lingus refund delays leave passengers angry

I read your article last week where you said Aer Lingus are giving refunds. I’ve been months asking for refund instead of voucher and they have said, no, it’s not possible.

I had booked initially for July, then opted to rebook for August instead of taking a voucher. Then the flight was changed by a full day and I was told I would only get tax back in a refund as I had booked Saver flights. This is outrageous

Ms TQ, email

You’re right. If that is what you were told, it is. Not least because I have been assured on several occasions and by different people in Aer Lingus that the type of ticket has no bearing on whether you can get a refund.

Last week’s query on passenger refunds has sparked a wave of emails from readers both here and in the United States who are clearly at their wit’s end in trying to secure refunds, or vouchers, from the airline. One person has been waiting for six months, they tell me.

In an effort to answer as many of the queries as possible, we will break with our usual pattern and try to address several related questions in this piece.

In fairness, it must be acknowledged that coronavirus has been a disastrous time for airlines. Widespread travel restrictions have meant not only that most flights were grounded for an extended period but also that people abandoned all bar essential future travel plans amid uncertainty over future restrictions and of the path of the virus itself.

In the absence of normal business, airlines have had to turn to State supports while also cutting staff or putting them on shorter time.

But, all too often in the chaos, passengers feel that they have been forgotten.

Aer Lingus, in its defence, says that it “has added additional resources to our teams and introduced new technologies to improve processing times”. It says that “to date in excess of 90 per cent of the requests received have been processed” with those remaining “typically more complex”.

That may be so but some of the queries we have received do not seem overly complex and it is clear that some of the information people have been given – where they have been given any information at all – is simply wrong.

In the case of Ms TQ, whose case the airline are still investigating, a spokeswoman for Aer Lingus has once again stated categorically: “The type of ticket does not influence someone’s entitlement to a refund.”

So the fact that someone is on a Saver ticket – a discounted economy ticket, I gather – should not in any way preclude them getting a refund if they otherwise meet the criteria.

Last week, I was told those criteria were as follows: “Aer Lingus customers with bookings that have been impacted by a schedule change of over two hours, are entitled to a full refund.”

Seems straightforward. Unfortunately, the experience of Ms TQ and others seems to show that has not proved to be the case thus far.

Four months

Other queries seem equally straightforward. Ms OD has been waiting for over four months for a credit voucher from Aer Lingus. She has been in touch with the call centre “numerous” times and has been told the voucher is coming soon but that has been the position for months now, she says.

With the airline now processing refunds, she wonders how long more she will have to wait?