Back in March 2020, no one could foresee the duration and the extension of COVID-19’s consequences. Most of us, we’ve had already planed some spring or/and summer holidays and had even bought air tickets.
When the pandemic resulted in travel bans and restrictions at borders, it led to a vast number of cancellations and many citizens being unable to travel. The worldwide travel restrictions caused almost a standstill of movement in many parts of the world and a loss of €30 billion in the first quarter of 2020 and €46 billion in the second quarter, according to European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA). This still has a serious impact on carriers, organizers of package tours, and providers of other tourism services. At the same time, many travelers have been affected by the impact of the crisis and have seen their income reduced as a result of the curtailment of economic activities.
When the flight cancelations started stirring up and passengers started demanding refunds, the European Commission had to interfere to protect passengers’ rights. On March 18th, specific guidelines on how certain provisions of the EU passenger rights legislation should be applied in the context of the COVID-19 got published. At the same time, the guidelines clarified that the current circumstances are “extraordinary”. On 19 March 2020, an information note on the Package Travel Directive in connection with the COVID-19 was also issued.
Under these EU rules, passengers and travelers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for canceled transport tickets (plane, train, bus/coach, and ferries) or package travel. However, due to heavy financial strains on travel operators, the Commission recommendation aimed to ensure that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative to reimbursement. Making vouchers more attractive (some airlines even offered an increase of 15-40% of the initial ticket price if passengers claim vouchers instead of cash return), would increase their acceptance by travelers. This would help to ease the liquidity problems of carriers and organizers and could ultimately lead to better protection of their interests.
If you have any flight canceled or pending due to the pandemic, make sure to stay informed about your rights at Sky-Tours’ cancellations page.