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I bought a 2-way flight from SFO to MXP with Level, and the return flight was supposed to be on Aug 15, 2021. On July 26 I received notification that the first segment of the return flight (MXP-BCN) was cancelled and the airline was offering to anticipate the return flight by 24 hours to the previous day, Aug 14, with a 20 hour layover in Barcelona, and then continue the flight on the original segment (BCN-SFO) on Aug 15.

I couldn't leave on Aug 14 and I couldn't enter the US after Aug 15, so I contacted Level through their chat to ask for a different solution; for example there was a flight from Venice they were offering on their website which was connecting in BCN on Aug 15 just fine for the second segment, but they said that they could only change the date of the flight, not the route. Therefore I started the refund process through their system on Aug 2 and bought a flight with a different airline to leave and arrive on Aug 15.

They replied on Aug 9, proposing a change of dates (but the dates on their websites didn't fit in my schedule), or with a voucher. I asked for a cash refund, to which they replied that they were "reviewing the situation I informed them of", and then disappeared.
I asked them again for updates on Aug 14, then every ~2 weeks until now, Nov 25: they always replied mentioning some "technical issues" with their IT systems.
In the last email I asked them for a voucher (which was what they initially proposed) to buy a new ticket in April (they are currently not flying to/from SFO until March 2022), but they "cannot proceed due to the same previously mentioned technical issues" and that they will "reach out as soon as everything is settled".

Is there any limit on how much time can pass before receiving a refund? I checked the EU passenger rights but I don't see any mention of it.

Edit: on December 2, three days after writing this post, the airline contacted me saying that they refunded my card. Hmmm...

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Is there any limit on how much time can pass before receiving a refund?

Irrelevant question. Most airlines happily ignore what EU 261 says because the enforcement is weak. Assuming that you did NOT accept a voucher, you are clearly entitled for a full refund. It's also clear that Level has no intention of paying and just hoping you will go away on your own (which unfortunately is common these days).

You've already been contacting them regularly but apparently the "squeaky wheel" approach doesn't work here. Some options:

  1. Next time you talk to someone, escalate the rhetoric. Threaten legal action or turning it over to a collection agency. Airlines like keeping your money, but they don't like legal fees.
  2. Engage a 3rd party (such as www.airhelp.com, NO endorsement or recommendation intended). They will charge you for it but typically the airline will pay, since the 3rd parties will take them to court and know how to do it efficiently
  3. Initiate a charge back with your credit card provider
  4. Engage your political representative. Some of them like the publicity of being the "good person" helping their constituents.
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    Credit card chargeback is definitely the simplest, if you're entitled to that. A small claims court action is also sometimes recommended (it cost money to file a claim but this is refundable if you win).
    – Stuart F
    Nov 29 '21 at 13:13
  • I tried the automatic tool at airhelp.com but I can't claim compensation as the airline notified me of the cancelled flight more than 14 days before the flight. I already paid the flight with my credit card provider months ago, so (I think?) I can't charge it back. I'll try a more menacing tone at the next iteration. Thanks Nov 29 '21 at 19:04
  • @StuartF Small claims court is useful and relatively easy, but only available if the court has jurisdiction over the parties. In cases like this, the parties (the plaintiff, the airline, the OTA, etc.) are often in different jurisdictions or countries. Having jurisdiction is required. Getting a judgment and enforcing it against a firm doing business elsewhere can be a challenge or impossible. Jan 14 at 21:45
  • +1 to credit card chargeback. Did this in this scenario with Condor and got 50% of my money back (they cancelled the return flight, the outgoing one was fine). They tried to threaten legal action last year, I told them to go for it. Still no lawsuit filed. So do a chargeback and then call out their bluff if they say they'll sue you.
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 15 at 0:42

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