NEWS: Are Swiss/Lufthansa now the worst at giving refunds in the crisis? Refunds department is “closed”

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Are Swiss/Lufthansa the worst airlines for refunds in the crisis? 

We all know that airlines are in trouble financially and don’t want to pay out for ticket refunds. Many such as BA or Virgin have removed the option to apply for a refund online, even for fully refundable flights. BA is actually pretty good if you can get through on the phone, and I have now received refunds for all my cancelled flights within a couple of weeks of asking for them. Virgin won’t let you speak to them until 72 hours before the plane was due to depart which I am finding infuriating! I hold a refundable ticket and should be able to cancel at any time. And they have cancelled my flight anyway! Hopefully, I will be able to get through when it gets to 72 hours before. 

It could be worse, though, as Swiss/Lufthansa sinks to a new low. The EU recently ruled that airlines must refund flights that they have cancelled. Forcing customers to have vouchers is against EU rules. Roving Reporter had booked a Swiss companion fare and was recently stranded in India at the end of a trip by them. Swiss cancelled his return flight, and then were unreachable by phone for days and left him stranded to sort out his own way home. This was for someone flying in First class! Thankfully this was a few weeks ago before India went into full lockdown. 

To make matters even worse, he has understandably been trying to get a refund from them of his return flight, so he can at least recoup some of the cost of his very expensive flight home. He was told yesterday that he could not have a refund at the moment as they will not be processing any refunds until the end of the summer. The telephone agent told him that they had been instructed to say to customers that the refund department was now closed due to staff shortages and that they would not be processing any refunds until the end of the summer!

Here is his official email response from Swiss:

 

 

 

Their website now shows:

 

 

Swiss is a subsidiary Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG who is currently seeking a government bailout.  Analysts a few weeks ago thought that Lufthansa has about €5.1 billion available, but that would run out in less than a month if they had to refund all the cancelled flights. The German government has called on the EU to allow airlines to issue vouchers for future travel instead, which so far has been refused. It is also interesting to note that although Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, they did agree to adopt EU26 so are bound by its rules in Swiss law. 

It will be interesting to see if the EU tries to take any action against Lufthansa/Swiss for trying to fob people off with a “refund sometime”. 

In the meantime, if you are in this situation, I have advised RR to file a section 75 claim with his credit company for goods or services not provided. 

Have you been trying to get a refund from Swiss or Lufthansa? Let us know your experiences in the comments below or on social media. 

 

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18 Comments on "NEWS: Are Swiss/Lufthansa now the worst at giving refunds in the crisis? Refunds department is “closed”"

  1. Assuming that you paid on a credit card then section 75 is your friend here. You should be able to claim back the cost of your original flights, or probably any extra cost of the replacement flight instead.

    • Thanks Matt. That’s exactly what I advised him to do! I should have put that bit in as well.

  2. Aaron Curtis | 9 April 2020 at 2:37 pm | Reply

    Hi, Brussels airlines are saying the same.

  3. We’ve just claimed for flights with Lufthansa that we were due to take this easter weekend.

    Lufthansa didn’t advise us that all 4 legs had been cancelled and communication has generally been terrible compared to BA who have kept me advised immediately of any changes to flight

    One small positive is that they didn’t try to force me to take a voucher. I was initially offered to rebook or take a voucher but when I said I wanted a refund there was no push back. The guidance was though that it could be at least several weeks before nay refund was made

    My experience with BA was similar to Michelle’s in that they’ve refunded within a week

  4. As far as I can see, it’s the same for BA. I’ve called them several times today as my flight cancellation message finally came through, and none of the options on the phone numbers that they suggest or on their contact-us page let you get through to anyone and eventually just say ‘call us back later’.

    • I believe there is a way round it by selecting one of the options on the phone. It may be better to try in a few days as they have recently sent out a whole new wave of cancellations.

  5. GUY VERDUYSTERT | 10 April 2020 at 8:07 am | Reply

    As we are talking about refunds, Ryanair are playing delaying tactics. I was allowed to apply for a refund on 20 March (I say allowed because before that date it was impossible for me to apply on their website). They promised to pay within 7 working days which brings us to 31 March. Yesterday (9 April) I got an email from them telling me that I am in a queue to be paid. One of reasons for delay was that they are “experiencing an unprecedented high volume of requests. I believe the underlying reason is more worrying. Though I will never be able to prove it, but I fear that they are trying to manage their cashflow problems. If true why not be honest about it

    Turning to more positive news. Booked on Brussels Airlines. Got my flights rebooked by the wonders of Facebook communication in one hour. The people I dealt with at Brussels Airline were friendly and as fast as they could be (they even went the extra mile to find me better seats I paid for on my original flight).

    And finally, I take off my hat to AVIS car rental. Without a quibble they refunded me in a matter of days (Ryanair take note).

  6. To be fair, and with reference to the other article today, Lufthansa are offering the option of re-booking any current booking for the whole of this year along with a €50 discount – although I haven’t got as far as trying it out yet!

    We have flights booked with LH at the end of May, which I’m pretty sure we won’t be using even if they are operating. The choice at the moment seems to get a ‘voucher’ and reschedule for later in the year (to be done by 31 August) with, I expect, an increase in fare price – or wait until they cancel the flights and attempt to get a full refund.

  7. Geoff said: ”To be fair, and with reference to the other article today, Lufthansa are offering the option of re-booking (by 31 August any current booking for the whole of this year along with a €50 discount”

    Wow. Really Geoff? Are we therefore meant to heed your views and agree that this is really very nice, kind and generous of Lufthansa Group or what?

    What sheer nonsense. Maybe that sort of dictatorial flaunting of the law is still acceptable in some German dominated circles but for all of the rest of us the simple truth is that they took OUR MONEY then they did not deliver the flights which we bought and now they are keeping OUR MONEY unless and until we accept their vile bully-boy tactics of a voucher with severe booking and usage deadlines.

    And for many weeks they remain clearly in fundamental breach of the Consumer Laws of many countries including in particular the BINDING TERMS of the EU’s E261 (take a look at Article 6 if you are unaware of the real facts).

    Who the heck do Lufthansa Group think they are? The Nazis reincarnated?

    Sorry Geoff but you are badly in the wrong to try and defend them.Do you not believe in the Rule of Law or what?

  8. Thank you Michele, I appreciate it.

  9. I’ve had two Business Class Swiss flights, LHR to Zurich then onto Bangkok for end of April this year, and clearly that isn’t happening. Despite Swiss’s website saying that all bar one of their international routes had stopped operating, my Bangkok flight was magically still running – that was until it simply vanished from my booking screen – no cancelation mails, messages, nothing – at least BA do this!

    I called through, and I wanted the refund, but as you mention above this “wasn’t possible” – so I settled to have the flights moved to the end of November this year, as I feel thats safer than a voucher should anything happen to Swiss as an airline. There was no wait at their call centre, and the flights were changed in around 15 minutes.

    There was a £480 difference (decrease) in the price of my new flights BUT – wait for this – Swiss will not refund this as it isn’t their policy, so therefore, they’ve kept that cash of mine.

    Bit of a mixed bag of an experience really, but given the current situation, and combined with the fact they’re not refunding anyone, I felt my outcome was probably a “safer” option at the moment.

    Chris

  10. I‘m waiting for refunds for three lots of flights for two people from LH. I phoned the Hotline on March 18th and was ensured the money would be refunded to my (Lufthansa) card…. but I‘m still waiting. I‘ve contacted my credit card issuer, but their initial response was: „sorry, nothing to do with us. Please contact the airline“

    I understand that times are difficult for Lufthansa (as they are for many of us!) but I have lots of flights booked with them (I‘m based in Munich and fly LH 99% of the time) and I can’t take vouchers for every single booking (I‘ve already taken vouchers for another two other bookings): I simply would’ve have time to use them all by the deadline.

  11. Carole crookes | 25 April 2020 at 9:08 am | Reply

    Given the financial difficulty LH group are in would it be ok to wait to rebook my flights with Swiss.

    • I don’t think it will make a difference either way. There is so much uncertainty about what schedules will look like in the future, waiting is probably a good thing. If they folded then it should not make a difference in trying to get your money back from a credit card.

  12. I have been waiting for Lufthansa refund since February 17th. First Class Revenue booking to Shanghai. Still no money. May 12th I have waited 48 days for a Mastercard chargeback and hopefully get my money that way. Next time I will only use AMEX. It took American Express just 5-6 days to credit me a chargeback for another cancelled flight. VISA is 30 days. Just so you know.. Amex, the best. VISA ok, Mastercard 48 days.. worthless. Lufthansa, even more worthless.

  13. Have since spoken to Swiss as I was prepared to take a voucher and have to decide by 8th May (my flight date) . A voucher has to be booked by 31st August for travel until 31st December 2020. The route Ive booked is seasonal until end of September. It is possible that flights to Greece for UK citizens will not be allowed soon so a voucher would be no good. Most airlines are giving at least a year to use vouchers and some 18 months so I will now join the queue for a refund. My flights cost me around £700 for 2 and the prices for July, August and September same route if they operate are around £1300 plus Ts & Cs say 50 franc fee for re-booking through their call centre which I would have to do as travelling via Zurich! Makes BA look like angels!

  14. Section 75 claim by credit card should get you a refund of the necessary replacement flight -not just the cost of the original flight. If it’s somewhat higher then any evidence that the higher price was generally the”going rate” as to what was available in the market at the time Roving Reporter needed to replace his ticket(s), will be settled by (a UK)credit card company.

  15. chris mckee | 14 May 2020 at 2:10 pm | Reply

    it’s the blatant lying from Lufthansa that really gets me with this. They hold their customers in utter contempt! They have lied on numerous occasions to me telling me 7 days for refund, then a month, then 2 months and now ‘we can’t say’.

    The actions of businesses during this lockdown period will determine their success going forward. The way this pathetic excuse of an airline has treated their customers is going to see them hemorrhage tickets sales in the coming years. I will never, ever give this company a penny of money again…they have lost the business of me, my wife and my 2 kids for life!

    Lufthansa and Ryanair…two airlines people should boycott after this virus disappears and we start flying again.

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