Consumer group Which? has launched a new petition calling for the government to “reform travel” because of delays in holidaymakers receiving refunds during the Covid-19 crisis.
The group says that “tens of thousands" of travellers have been waiting months for flight and holiday refunds, which add up to billions of pounds owed to consumers.
The Which? petition, entitled Refund Us, Reform Travel, demands that the “government step in and reform travel so passengers aren’t left in this position again” and that airlines should immediately refund any passengers still waiting for refunds.
“Trust in the travel industry has plunged to an all-time low following this disruption. As flights and destinations start to open up again, companies must protect passengers’ rights – issuing refunds where required – to restore our trust, so consumers feel confident booking their next holiday,” said Which?
It added that the refunds situation was “just the tip of the iceberg”, with the pandemic “uncovering wider issues with the way parts of the travel sector work for consumers”.
“From airlines ignoring passenger legal rights and in some cases obstruction on refunds, to the regulator’s limited power to champion passengers, more needs to be done to make sure passengers are adequately protected,” said Which?
An Abta spokesperson said the way airlines deal with refunds had “a significant impact on the rest of the travel industry” including operators, agents and consumers.
“The situation needs to improve quickly to speed up the refund process, as without monies back from airlines tour operators are not able to refund customers for cancelled package holidays,” they added.
“We look forward to the CAA publishing its next update on its current review of airline practices which is due later this month, and hope their action helps to free up the flow of monies through the industry and back to customers now travel is restarting.”