Airways to be investigated for refusing money refunds the place passengers could not journey because of Covid-19 restrictions

What are my rights if I can’t take my flight due to coronavirus laws?

As outlined above, if your flight is cancelled due to lockdown restrictions – as many were during the pandemic – you’re generally due a full refund within seven days under EU flight delay rule. These rules still apply this year despite Brexit, and cover all flights leaving the UK or EU as well as flights to the UK/EU on a UK/EU airline, meaning you can choose between a full refund for the cancelled flight or an alternative flight to your destination. 

If it’s illegal for you to take your flight due to coronavirus restrictions but it’s not cancelled, the CMA says you should still expect a full refund. Its guidance states consumers should get their money back if they’re not provided with a service due to lockdown laws, or can’t access what they paid for “because, for example, lockdown laws in the UK or abroad have made it illegal to receive or use the goods or service”.

It’s important to note, however, that CMA guidance isn’t a definitive interpretation of the law, and this is a new scenario which hasn’t been tested in court – and the CMA has also stressed that it hasn’t yet decided whether it believes any individual airlines have broken consumer law. 

Things are murkier still if travel is advised against but not made illegal – for example, if you’re travelling from a tier 3 area of England at present, which is advised against but you won’t be breaking any laws if you do. Unfortunately, in this situation you may find it more difficult to get your money back if you decide not to travel. The CMA’s guidance says if restrictions that prevent a service being used aren’t legal restrictions, it’s not clear whether a consumer would be entitled to a full refund – though this doesn’t mean you’re definitely not owed one. 

There’s full info on your rights in different scenarios in our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.

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