No-show return cancellations 'break consumer law'

11 December 2018 08:33

Airlines can 'double their money' by reselling cancelled flights

Airlines can 'double their money' by reselling cancelled flights

Airlines that automatically cancel return flights when passengers fail to show for their outbound journeys are being warned they risk breaking consumer law.

Consumer group Which? claims the "rip-off" no-show clauses imposed on customers are often buried in the airline's terms and conditions.

The policies see airlines cancel connecting or return flights if a passenger does not board a plane for their first flight, with affected passengers offered no refund.

However, the seats are often resold by airlines, allowing carriers to "double their money", according to Which?

Inflated price

Passengers often only find out their tickets have been cancelled when they arrive at the airport for their return leg and are forced to buy another seat at an inflated price or pay a fine - up to 3,000 euros (£2,685) in some cases - to use their original ticket.

One traveller who contacted Which? reported having to pay Virgin Atlantic an extra £1,354 to get home from New York after she missed a flight from London.

This was more than the price of her original return trip.

Which? has written to nine carriers - including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic - informing them their policies are potentially in breach of the Consumer Rights Act.

The consumer group is joining forces with counterparts in nine countries across Europe to "stamp out the unfair practice".

Watchdogs in the Netherlands and Greece will announce court action against Dutch airline KLM over the issue on Monday.

'Unjustified'

Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: "Missing a flight because you're stuck in traffic or on a delayed train is frustrating enough, but for the airline to then turn around and say your return journey is cancelled as well is completely unfair and unjustified.

"We don't think there's any good reason for a no-show clause to exist. It only works in favour of the airline. It should be removed immediately by airlines, who need to show more respect for their passengers."

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