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I booked a flight from Newark to Lisbon with a connection to Manchester, which was a family trip... The airline had cancelled the flight, which I only found out when I went into the details of our trip as Canada & the US placed restrictions on travel due to the Covid pandemic. Air Portugal have kindly given me vouchers for the cost of the flight, however, is it at all possible to get a refund back to my credit card for the cost of the flights as it wasn't myself that cancelled initially. Could you please advise. Thank you in advance, Mark

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  • Does this answer your question? – Studoku Nov 22 '20 at 19:56
  • @Studoku That question is about when the traveller doesn't want to go, not when the airline cancels the flight. – DJClayworth Nov 22 '20 at 20:36
  • Did you pay by credit card? In that case you can ask your card provider to refund you. – Willeke Nov 22 '20 at 20:37
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If an airline cancels your flight then they are legally obliged to give you a full refund using whatever payment means the ticket was bought with.

Airlines will frequently act as if this is not the case, and will offer you other redresses like vouchers or rebooking, and try to make it sound like those are the only option. That is because they want to keep your money, now more than ever.

If they offered you vouchers and you accepted then there may not be much you can do, since they will consider that they offered you the vouchers instead of a refund and you accepted that. But it's worth trying. If you haven't agreed to take the vouchers yet just keep insisting that you want a full refund. You should get one eventually.

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Airlines are in serious financial trouble because far fewer people are traveling for any purpose. State-sponsored or state-owned or state-affiliated airlines (Air France, KLM, Turkish Air, etc.) may survive; it is extremely likely that many other carriers will go bankrupt.

Because airlines’ cash flow has evaporated, airlines are desperate to avoid making (or may be unable to make) cash refunds, or to reverse previous credit card charges. Vouchers for future travel are often offered as compensation, but vouchers are far from a good bet: if the airline goes bankrupt, its vouchers will be worthless.

How airlines respond to claims depends on their relative financial health, and how successful the airline has been in avoiding and denying other claims. Using the search box at the top of the Travel.SE page, you’ll find many reports of airlines having cancelled flights without rebooking the traveler, thus invoking the EU’s mandatory compensation rules or the US’s Department of Transportation Rules...which the airlines ignore, leaving travelers uncompensated. From the outside, the number of those complaints suggest airlines are in desperate straits.

So the best that can be said is that while the carrier’s Terms & Conditions may require your rebooking or refund, and the EU’s or the DOT’s rules may require a refund or the payment of compensation, the actual result is often no response from the airline at all. The traveler is left to continue demanding a refund from the airline, which may or may not result in an eventual payment, and/or to dispute the loss with the credit card issuer (which may be time-barred if the ticket was charged many months ago), and/or to claim against travel insurance (if any had been purchased), or to sign up with one of the online “We’ll get your refund for you” services, or to sue the airline (either with a solicitor or on your own in Small Claims Court), or to let it go and walk away.

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  • One more option: their are companies that fight EU 261 claims for you and will actually handle going to court. They take a cut of the proceeds, but it's probably cheaper and easier then trying to take legal action yourself – Hilmar Nov 22 '20 at 23:21
  • @Hilmar I thought this was covered in "...or to sign up with one of the online "We'll get your refund for you" services..." – DavidSupportsMonica Nov 25 '20 at 17:54

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