13

We have a flight from Schiphol to Calgary booked directly with KLM.

At this time, Canada doesn't seem to let anyone enter the country due to the covid pandemic. (Except for a few exceptions)

Still KLM is flying, and we can't refund our tickets. Isn't it a requirement for the country to let us in before an airline would take us there? It feels kind of strange that KLM is still running alot of flights when almost nobody can enter.

Anything we can do to get our money back for this flight?

Edit: the ticket was booked in december 2019. The flight is in september 2020

Update: As the original flight was cancelled, we got rebooked to another day. This seemed to count as a cancellation and gave us a voucher.

  • 1
  • 5
    I don't think it is terribly relevant in this case but it might be useful to specify when you booked the flight: Did you book it before Canada imposed restrictions? Did the travel advice from your foreign ministry (or from the Dutch foreign ministry) deteriorate between the time you booked the flight and now? – Relaxed Aug 31 at 10:15
  • 4
    You may not be able to get a refund, but most airlines (and I'm pretty sure this applies to KLM) provide the option of cancelling and getting a voucher valid for future travel. In some cases, said voucher can be redeemed for cash after a year, but the specifics vary a lot based on the airline, the destination, when the ticket was booked, whether the specific flight was cancelled, etc. – jcaron Aug 31 at 10:15
  • 2
    KLM doesn't seem to be offering Covid-19 refunds or vouchers (except for "package deals") but they are offering rebooking with no change fee. The catch is it must be rebooked before the original departure date. – Michael Hampton Aug 31 at 14:19
  • 1
    @MichaelHampton I don't think this is correct. KLM does offer vouchers for customer cancellations due to Covid-19; see klm.nl/en/trip/refund. In May 2020, my wife and I cancelled several KLM inter-EU flights that were scheduled to fly in June 2020; we have received vouchers that may be redeemed until December 31, 2021, and allow the paid-by-voucher flights to occur after December 31, 2021. – DavidSupportsMonica Aug 31 at 19:05
30

The list of exemptions is in line with what other countries have been doing and is far from preventing anyone from entering the country. Citizens and their family, (future) permanent residents, temporary workers, etc. is not “almost nobody“. That probably contributes to explain why KLM is still flying to Canada (stats for Schiphol, with no distinction between carriers, suggest only about half of all flights to North America are currently operating). Freight can also play a role (if a plane is flying anyway and cannot be replaced or converted to an all-freight aircraft, they might as well offer tickets and save some money on refunds by avoiding to cancel a flight). For you, the end result is the same: until the flight is cancelled, the relevant EU regulation doesn't apply.

Now, you're right the airline won't take you there if you don't qualify for an exemtion but they are still ready to execute their end of the agreement, should you qualify for one. From their perspective, you are in a situation not unlike that of someone who couldn't get a visa. Conditions of carriage typically include language to cover situations like these and specify that you (and not the airline) are responsible for securing permission to enter your destination. They might offer vouchers (see the comments and other answer) but have no reason to treat it as a cancellation (which would make a refund possible).

Since the airline won't help you, another approach would be to turn to your travel insurance (if you have one) or to an industry compensation schemes but neither of these are likely to be good options in your case. Compensation schemes typically cover package holidays, not necessarily naked flights and have also been under pressure lately. Both might exclude pandemics from their coverage.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    +1 for the last paragraph. This is what travel insurance is for (provided you selected the right cover) – Aleks G Aug 31 at 22:54
  • 3
    And this situation is perfect case study on insurance. You don't need it until you do, and when you do, it's too late. All those times that it didn't kick in, it is "wasted", until it kicks in, then it covers far more than what you paid for. – Nelson Sep 1 at 4:38
  • 7
    @Nelson: If insurance did not operate in that fashion, it would not be profitable. – Kevin Sep 1 at 5:40
  • 4
    Citizens are being allowed to enter Canada only if they promise to self-quarantine for two weeks. – Michael Hardy Sep 1 at 19:44
24

KLM does offer vouchers for customer cancellations due to Covid-19; see klm.nl/en/trip/refund.

In May 2020, my wife and I cancelled several KLM inter-EU flights that were scheduled to fly in June 2020. We have received vouchers that may be redeemed until December 31, 2021, and allow the paid-by-voucher flights to occur after December 31, 2021.

| improve this answer | |
  • 3
    (+1) Outside of the current situation, they also have something in their general conditions of carriage on force majeure cancellation by the customer. – Relaxed Sep 1 at 12:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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