With the arrival of the coronavirus in Europe and, specifically, the declaration of the State of Alarm in Spain , many travelers have been forced to stop traveling and cancel trips and reservations. It is a situation that has generated enough confusion and problems for both consumers and companies, but on which certain guidelines can be given on what to do and what rights they have in these somewhat exceptional cases. In a general way, in the case of flights, the cancellation and refund of the money is being carried out, although it all depends on the company, the date of the trip, whether it is the company that cancels or it is the consumer, among others. possible assumptions. In any case, it is always best to contact the company or travel agency with which the trip has been contracted.
Cancellation by the company
When it is the company that has canceled the trip, the consumer has a series of rights such as information , assistance and refund of the ticket. However, it should be noted that COVID-19 is an extraordinary circumstance and beyond the company, therefore, in this case, there is no right to the economic compensation of between 250 to 600 euros that is contemplated in the law for the assumptions cancellation of flights that occur in other circumstances and depending on the moment in which the passenger was informed of the cancellation.
However, if the company breaches the rights that the consumer does have in these cases, they have to complain to the company. If no response is received or it is not satisfactory, it is possible to file a claim with EASA using the available form.
In those cases in which the traveler is the one who has chosen to cancel the trip, the cancellation conditions of the ticket or the contract that has been signed must be reviewed.
As a guide, because it may vary according to the conditions of the ticket , the contract or the company itself, it can be said that a refund or change of dates is offered in the flexible rates .
On the contrary, in the case of a low cost rate , the refund of the money could not be requested unless the cancellation is considered force majeure. That is to say, unforeseeable and unavoidable extraordinary circumstances or assumptions.
And this, precisely, is what is giving consumers many headaches because this force majeure has not always been recognized . In any case, it must be clear that whoever alleges this cause is the one who must prove it when claiming .
Steps to take
Apart from taking into account these premises that we have given, it is also important to know what steps have to be taken to cancel a flight. The first thing is to contact the airline or tour operator or travel agency with which the tickets have been contracted or purchased to request the change, postponement or cancellation and refund as desired or appropriate.
In the event that they do not return the money or do not change the flight, another series of steps must be taken. The first of them is to insist that the cancellation request is due to extraordinary causes beyond the control of the will and that they are motivated by a pandemic situation.
For example, it can be argued that the health authorities have also warned that the risk areas may vary, so it does not mean that the destination country that is not affected by COVID-19 today is not affected later.
It is important to be able to compile evidence that supports the personal circumstances that advise against traveling in order to provide them. For example, being in quarantine, being a person affected by COVID-19, having to live with people at risk such as elderly or sick …
In the case of traveling for work to congresses or fairs , among other options, the fact that the event has been canceled, the country has closed the borders can also be a proof …
And, if even with everything, the request for change, trip cancellation or no response is received, it only remains to go to court . In the event that the amount is less than 2,000 euros, you do not need a lawyer or solicitor.