23

My international conference in Europe this May has been canceled due to the COVID-19. I have a ticket, purchased from TAP air Portugal, from Toronto, Canada to Lisbon. Because it is a non-refundable fare, they don't want to give a refund.

They won't allow me to reschedule later than May 31 of this year. This won't be useful for me.

What options do I have? I'd prefer to get a full refund.

(I am a US citizen if it matters)

Note: They offered to refund just the taxes, which is about 10% of the value. That's not horrible, but I'd rather have the whole thing returned.

  • Others with better knowledge may answer, however I’m not sure you have any other options as far as the airline is concerned, given there are currently no official travel restrictions to Portugal AFAIK. Have you checked what your travel insurance covers? – Traveller Mar 5 at 21:34
  • Your travel insurance might cover it if you bought the ticket before the Covid-19 outbreak really got going. If you bought it afterwards, they probably won't. – Greg Hewgill Mar 5 at 21:38
  • 1
    You should now that the ticket price also includes fees and taxes the airline has to pay per passenger. You might have a right to get those refunded. – Cephalopod Mar 6 at 7:30
  • 1
    See my answer for the latest positive news, they'll allow rescheduling until the end of 2020 to any destination From now on, the reservation change can be made up to 24 hours before the departure of your first flight, rescheduling the new trip to any destination and flying until December 31, 2020. flytap.com/en-gb/latest-updates – JulianHarty Mar 17 at 19:25
  • I called my credit card and asked for them to give my money back for the tickets. The dispute reason? "The expected goods or services have not been received" I will update this when it becomes final. – axsvl77 May 9 at 12:49
33

Since you bought a non-refundable ticket, the airline does not have to refund you. Travel insurance could pay out if you have “event cancellation” cover. However, since the the Canadian government does not advise against travelling to Portugal, it’s unlikely that most generic policies will pay out.

I would say that your best option is just to wait. It’s possible that the flight could be cancelled either due to official travel advisories or reduced demand. In this case, you’ll be eligible for a full refund.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    The travel insurance approach will heavily depend on when travel was booked and the insurance was purchased - if both were before the warnings, then travel insurance should pay out. If it both or either were after, then there are going to be difficulties getting a payout. – Moo Mar 5 at 22:49
  • 3
    @Moo There are no travel warnings applicable to Portugal at the moment, so if there is a policy, it would have to have been purchased before any hypothetical warning. – MJeffryes Mar 5 at 22:57
  • 3
    @Moo It presumably varies a bit internationally. In the UK, insurers will pay out if you cancel due to a government travel advisory after you purchased the policy. – MJeffryes Mar 6 at 0:29
  • 1
    Most travel insurances exclude specifically "pandemic" or "epidemic" – Hilmar Mar 6 at 15:13
  • 1
    @nick012000 I wrote this answer on 5th March. – MJeffryes Mar 24 at 17:47
7

Try calling the airline and asking for a cancellation. Most airlines are giving a full refund with almost no questions. If they are not giving you a refund, I would say hold on to your ticket for a couple of days and try for a cancellation again. With the corona situation, only looking to get worse, they might realize the intensity of the situation and give you that refund.

Source: Cancelled flights and hotels to/at Germany with 100% refund

| improve this answer | |
  • As I've mentioned in my answer, the airline is now more flexible and generous. Their website has a few errors, perhaps as it's being heavily used with people rebooking? – JulianHarty Mar 17 at 19:24
6

Today (17th March 2020) the airline have revised their policy which is now much more generous and flexible (at least in terms of rebooking without a change fee or the offer of a voucher).

Last updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2020, 17:20 / 05:20 PM (WET)

Due to the current situation of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we have extended the possibility of rescheduling your flight, without paying the associated change fee, for any TAP route and for any travel date.

From now on, the reservation change can be made up to 24 hours before the departure of your first flight, rescheduling the new trip to any destination and flying until December 31, 2020.

Alternatively, we fully refund the amount paid for the purchase of the ticket, by issuing a voucher, sent by email, valid for one year, for use on a future journey of your choice. (there's another page of details)

https://www.flytap.com/en-gb/latest-updates

I've just changed my flights from March to October and paid just over 4 euros (5USD) for miscellaneous charges (I'm not fussed about this tiny charge in the circumstances).

| improve this answer | |
  • A bit frustrated that they aren't offering full cash refunds like other airlines. – songololo Mar 18 at 21:09
  • Are they transferrable? – axsvl77 Mar 18 at 21:43
  • @axsvl77 I don't know if the tickets are transferrable, sorry. – JulianHarty Mar 20 at 9:14
  • 1
    All airlines will go bankrupt very soon. The chances of you taking that flight are... astronomically low unfortunately. – JonathanReez Mar 24 at 2:46
  • @JonathanReez The airlines that get propped up by their local governments probably won't. If you're a government that owns a national airline, you probably won't want it to completely go out of business, even if it's not making any profit. – nick012000 Mar 24 at 6:39
2

My husband and I were supposed to go to Portugal on March 5 for 10 days. We spoke with TAP representatives 3 different times in the days leading up to our trip, and they said our ticket was non-refundable, even though COVID-19 was already a global issue and Portugal's health director had assigned a "red alert." We had thought about getting travel insurance, but companies told us that we would not be covered for cancellation, claiming we already knew about COVID-19. My advice: wait to cancel your flight, since TAP might/hopefully offer refunds as things get worse (there are currently 25 confirmed cases in Portugal.) But don't cancel the tickets beyond your scheduled flight, because the penalties are much more costly. I submitted a complaint letter to TAP, but received no confirmation that they received it. And their phone lines are inaccessible at this time. It's a mess!

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I had the same issue with the phone lines - it took a long time to get through. – axsvl77 Mar 8 at 18:43
  • As I've mentioned in my answer, the airline have changed their policy and it's now much more generous and flexible. Try again online and good luck, see flytap.com/en-gb/latest-updates and my answer here in case the web page is updated. – JulianHarty Mar 17 at 19:23
1

On March 20 we were told that they would deduct $250 per direction (I.e. $500 round trip) and then give the balance as a voucher that had to be used by the end of the year.

| improve this answer | |
1

I inquired on March 20 too and they said a 70euro per person to cancel a full fare, refundable First class ticket. I was holding out for a cancellation & full refund. today, I checked and flight is now cancelled and only a voucher for full amount, with travel started by 12/31/2020. Now, I wish I had cancelled and paid the $156 for 2 tix. I still would have received a $700 credit back on my card.

| improve this answer | |
-1

You might try calling the Portugal Embassy and complain to them, the government still owns half of this airline. I have an SFO to LIS flight in middle of May and hoping to be able to cancel or at least reschedule it.

| improve this answer | |
  • 7
    Given that its tremendously unlikely that anyone at the Portuguese embassy would take a complaint about TAP Air Portugal (they will almost certainly just tell you to complain to the airline or the aviation regulator), even if they did take a complaint its likely to be filed in a big round container marked "get around to this never", as no one at the embassy is going to have any authority to order TAP to do anything, not will there be a chain of authority to someone who can. – Moo Mar 11 at 21:20
  • Did a call to the embassy work? – axsvl77 May 9 at 15:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.