Travellers cancelling trips to high-risk areas will not be refunded by airlines
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    Travellers cancelling trips to high-risk areas will not be refunded by airlines

    Credit: Belga/Brussels Airlines

    Brussels Airlines will not refund flight tickets if travellers decide to cancel their own trips to high-risk areas instead of waiting for the airline to take the initiative.

    As an increasing number of countries are imposing local lockdowns and tightening their restrictions again because of spikes in infections, many travellers have decided to cancel their holiday journeys.

    “If travellers choose not to travel anymore, but the flight is not cancelled, then it is up to them,” Kim Daenen, spokesperson for Brussels Airlines, told The Brussels Times.

    Consumer organisation Test-Achats strongly advises travellers against cancelling their own flights if they want a refund. “It is better to wait until the airline takes the initiative,” the organisation said.

    “They can change their flights for free, but they will not get a refund, unless they booked a special ticket that allows them to get one,” she added.

    Brussels Airlines has worked with flexible tickets during the coronavirus crisis and lockdown, allowing travellers to change their flights without an extra fee. “If your new ticket is more expensive, however, you still have to pay the difference, but that has always been the case,” Daenen said.

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    People who have such a flexible ticket can also request a refund, if there are certain issues, such as a return flight getting cancelled.

    “If the flight gets cancelled by the airline, then a refund is always possible, of course,” Daenen said.

    However, official travel advice against going to a certain country or area (such as Catalonia, for example), does not mean that the flight will be cancelled by the carrier, resulting in a refund.

    “We cancel flights if we are not allowed to fly to the country, or if there is no demand at all due to official travel [by the Belgian state] advice against going there,” Daenen said. “We see that even if there is official advice against travelling somewhere, people still want to travel,” she added.

    What the impact for the airline will be of Belgium’s decision to make a quarantine mandatory for people returning from high-risk areas is not clear yet, according to Daenen.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times