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20 Aug 2021

Refund rights: Kiwi.com failed to refund cancelled flight for over a year

Which? has found that the online travel agent failed to refund a customer for more than 12 months after the pandemic derailed his trip

A Kiwi.com customer was forced to wait for more than 12 months for a refund, after Easyjet cancelled his trip from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Edinburgh via Milan.

John Silverton told Which? that he paid for his booking in January 2020, and was due to fly in June of the same year. But Easyjet cancelled the trip amid coronavirus travel disruption. More than 12 months later, John says he was still fighting for his legal right to a refund for a flight with booking platform Kiwi.com, with no communication from the firm until Which? stepped in. John told us that his emails to Kiwi were going unanswered and that customer service was 'not contactable'.

If an airline cancels your flight from a UK or EU-based airport, legally you're entitled to either a refund or a replacement flight to help you reach your destination, issued within seven days. But things can become trickier if you book a flight through an online travel agent, like John did.

Easyjet, John's airline, says it did grant a refund in July 2020 for the flight in question. But the refund Easyjet paid wasn't to John, nor to Kiwi.com (the platform John used to book the flight), but a middleman third party operating between Kiwi.com and Easyjet.

When we asked Kiwi.com about the status of John's refund, the company apologised and subsequently issued a reimbursement. A Kiwi spokesperson told us that a combination of a 'processing error' plus the strain of the pandemic on the travel industry contributed to the delay.

The spokesperson acknowledged their failure to properly support and communicate with John, adding: 'At Kiwi.com our aim is to refund customers as soon as possible after the airlines or our ticketing partners provide the refund to us.'

Need assistance planning your trip abroad? See our checklist for travel

How to claim a refund for a cancelled flight

As Covid-19 continues to cause travel disruption, it's always best to choose an airline that offers a flexible booking policy. Opting for travel insurance can add another layer of financial security to your booking, but even without these measures, your right to a refund is still protected by law if you're flying from a UK/EU airport under the Denied Boarding Regulation.

Or, if you haven't heard back from your airline regarding your refund and you booked your flights using a credit card, you could also try to claim cash back via your bank, under Section 75 legislation. If you choose this option, when asking for your money back you can download our draft letter template here.

It's also worth noting that booking a package trip, if appropriate, may also protect you from refund delays.