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I made a flight reservation with Norwegian back in June 2020 for flying from Spain to Finland in August 2020 (I hold EU citizenship).

Some weeks later, still in June 2020, I got notified that my flight was canceled (likely due to the current COVID-19 pandemic). Thus, I chose the option of reimbursement for the flight cost.

The total cost of the purchase was split between Norwegian Reward Points and actual money (roughly 150 EUR). As of October 2020, neither have the Norwegian Reward Points been reimbursed to my account nor have I received my money back.

I have called Norwegian's customer service several times throughout the months: at first, I was told that due to the high amount of reimbursement demands, I would likely have to wait until the end of the summer for my money to be reimbursed; I have afterward called more times and I have gotten told that due to privacy concerns, the customer service agents cannot see any further information other than the fact that "the reimbursement has been approved and it will be handled".

What are my customer rights? When can I expect to get my money back from Norwegian? What kind of action could I take given these circumstances?

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    Norwegian is this close to insolvency. They grounded 93% of their fleet till at least 4/2021 earliest. As of August 2020 they were already trying to sell tickets for summer 2021, they'll happily take your money now, although they mightn't exist then. Norwegian's customer service on the phone are IME useless. How did you pay: CC? can you get a chargeback? (always pay with a CC). Also, it's not uncommon for struggling airlines to wipe out or reduce FF points; I'd worry more about your €150. – smci Oct 26 '20 at 22:51
  • Thanks everyone for your answers, I wanted to update you that before I could make any decision on how to act next, I just got reimbursed my money by Norwegian (as if having written this post had triggered that... funny coincidences) – erik Nov 2 '20 at 8:19
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If you paid (part) by card, file a chargeback through your bank for that amount. Attach screenshots of any written correspondence and specify at what date and time you've called Norwegian's customer service. Explain you've been promised a refund (say when) but still haven't got it.

My strong guess is you'll get back the amount paid by card.

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    +1, got a refund back in March this way. – JonathanReez Oct 26 '20 at 15:37
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    @JonathanReez Got three flights, a €735 hotel booking and a package holiday charged back this spring/summer – Crazydre Oct 26 '20 at 16:49
  • This is how I got my refund "from" Ryanair. I mean... from PayPal!!!! – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Oct 27 '20 at 12:23
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    Is there a time limit for chargebacks? – stannius Oct 28 '20 at 15:31
  • @stannius You should normally apply within 30-60 days depending on the bank, but the ones I've had (I'm European) have been flexible about it, and should be understanding now during COVID-19, as you're expected to wait longer for a refund. – Crazydre Oct 29 '20 at 18:35
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I think you should wait. Maybe you get some hits on national newspapers.

As you know, COVID heavily affected air industry, and so they lack of liquidity. For this reason countries tend also to tolerate delays (but usually they requires refund in case of bailout credits): better delay then a bankruptcy.

In any case, in https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm#next-steps you have the "further step": after complaining with airline, you can complain to your national aviation authority: you have the list on the previous link.

PS: try to avoid Twitter and Google searches on this topic, or you will get a lot of spam from various "refund claim offices".

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    This seems like terrible advice. You are saying that the airline currently does not have healthy financials and therefore the customer should NOT make sure he gets is money back ASAP? For a healthy airline perhaps you should not worry as you will get it eventually, for a not so healthy one during the current climate: get your money ASAP. Try whatever route is possible towards being the person that gets paid before the bankruptcy. As soon as they declare bankruptcy you will never see that money again. (For the greater good your advice might be better. For the OP not so much.) – Kvothe Oct 28 '20 at 15:40
  • @Kvothe: The OP already asked multiple times. There is not much to do more: national authorities are not quick. As you write: if all people ask money, there is more probability that less people will get money. BTW I'm confident that there more are bailout money, and so I wrote to check national newspaper: they know better the probabilities to get money, and how/where to ask. – Giacomo Catenazzi Oct 28 '20 at 16:42
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The EU hasn't been very helpful on this in the past few months when even fairly reputable airlines like Lufthansa didn't pay back on time (as specified by the law). It's a massive liquidity problem for airlines, and when considering the big picture, the EU executive may prefer to go easy on airlines at the cost of customers (who're loosing non-existential amounts).

You basically have five options:

  1. Wait and hope Norwegian pays eventually
  2. Chargeback (see other answers here)
  3. Sue them, with a lawyer of your choice.
  4. If you think Norwegian will go bankrupt before you get your money, chargeback didn't work and you don't want to sue yourself, then you could consider one of the various "Flight Right" legal services. They claim they will help you get the money and as compensation keep 20-30% of whatever you get paid. This is usually bad for you - because in the worst case the company doesn't do anything at, just waits as you would do on your own - but now you loose 30% in case you do get paid. The only time this pays, and I don't think this is hugely likely, is if the company sues on your behalf (or threatens to) - and as a result of that you get paid. You can't force the company to sue, so it's really unlikely to pay off.
  5. The legal service option that isn't dodgy: get a company to pay you a lump sum now in exchange for whatever reimbursement you may get based on your flight rights. This is the only option that has full incentive alignment and will result in an economically optimal result. You've got a real benefit: you get your hard cash now, rather than uncertainty in the future. The only company I have found that suggests they consider this option is https://www.flight-refund.com/ (select direct refund). The fact that none of the other companies offer this option suggests that these companies exploit customer ignorance with the scheme outlined under point 4: they claim they sue for you, but in fact they just wait and see, and get 30% without any work of their own. I don't know whether the company I linked to actually offers direct refund - it may be that they just use it as a bait to offer you scheme 4. But you could give it a try. Basic economics suggests you will never get more than (100% - commission) * max_refund ~ 100 EUR, otherwise everyone would choose this option as opposed to commission option. I'd be surprised if they offer more than 50 EUR - but even then - this may be the best option in case you want peace of mind, certainty or are cash-strapped.

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