KLM will not refund flights cancelled before mid-May

KLM will not refund flights cancelled before mid-May
Credit: Saschaporsche/ Wikimedia Commons

Dutch airline KLM will not retroactively apply a recent decision to drop its voucher-only refund policy, meaning passengers on flights cancelled before the change will not be offered their money back.

The airline on Thursday announced it would comply with national and EU laws and give passengers the option between a voucher and a cash refund, following the publication of EU Commission recommendations.

But on Friday the company posted a statement on their webiste —now modified but captured by user screenshots and seen by The Brussels Times—indicating that the changes will only apply to flights cancelled on or after 14 May.

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"If your flight was cancelled by the airline on or after 14 May 2020, you can opt to request a cash refund or a voucher," the company wrote, adding: "For flights cancelled before 14 May 2020, the existing policies remain unchanged."

KLM also wrote that the vouchers could be exchanged for a cash refund "if they have not been (fully) used within 12 months."

The decision, which has prompted outrage among passengers, go against national and EU regulations and contrasts with claims made by the airline the day prior, when it stated it "always operated in compliance with national and international laws and regulations."

The Netherlands' national airline had previously piggybacked off Dutch Infrastructure Minister's statements that airlines could adopt a voucher-only refund policy to help them cushion the blow of the travel slump brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government of the Netherlands owns 14% of the airline's parent company, the Air-France KLM group, making it the group's largest shareholder along with the French government, which owns 14.3% of shares.

'Robbing us in broad daylight'

Passengers attempting to counter the airlines' action reacted with outrage at the news, with one passenger saying the airline was breaking EU regulations in a statement to The Brussels Times.

A KLM press officer declined to comment on the changes on an email statement.

Posts in the group show how users are sharing legal advice and consumer rights rules to help fellow travellers in their attempt to recover their money.

The group also advises members to launch a chargeback procedure via their banks or payment service provider, with some saying they got their money back after doing so.

KLM on Friday also announced that, in an effort to make its vouchers more attractive, the coupons would be worth 15% more than the original ticket price.

The Brussels Times

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