UK carrier Virgin Atlantic, like almost every other major airline, has had to deal with an onslaught of flight cancelations and service suspensions due to the coronavirus. This, of course, has meant refunds (or some other form of compensation) for customers. However, sources are now reporting that the airline’s customers will need to wait four months to receive a refund.
According to reporting from The Guardian, customers are being told by airline service agents that it will take the airline up to four months to refund money. This, the airline says, is due to a lack of infrastructure in-place as most agents are working from home.
£20 million per week
It’s reported that the airline is currently paying back £20 million per week, or $25.09 million. If we assume that the median ticket price was £1,000, then this would be 20,000 tickets weekly being processed.
Speaking with The Guardian, Virgin Atlantic declined to disclose the number of customers who have already received refunds.
As of mid-May the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority made a statement regarding a review of airline refunds, saying:
“[I]t is important that consumers are given a clear option to request a cash refund without unnecessary barriers. We expect airlines to provide refunds for cancelled flights as soon as practically possible, whilst appreciating there are operational challenges for airlines in the current circumstances.”
As for Virgin Atlantic, it said via The Guardian:
“Our customer centre and finance teams are working from home with limited infrastructure. We have boosted the size of the team handling refunds and these additional staff are receiving training.”
An international challenge
This challenge is not limited to the United Kingdom. In fact, many Canadians (as well as those flying on Canadian carriers) have been struggling to get refunds from airlines within Canada.
While virtually all Canadian airlines have taken a firm stand of issuing vouchers over refunds, many see this as an “interest-free loan” to keep carriers afloat.
In the United States, the government-issued CARES Act mandates that US carriers must issue refunds if requested. US carrier United has drawn a lot of anger for changing its policies numerous times in an apparent attempt to dodge refunds. The airline has since improved its refund policy.
To the east, carriers such as Lufthansa haven’t been issuing any refunds. At the same time, Air France-KLM only changed their refund policy last month to allow refunds to customers whose flights were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Where is Virgin Atlantic now?
As we reported last week, Virgin Atlantic has outlined its plans to resume flights in July after suspending operations in late April. The news comes as demand is slowly returning, and restrictions are being loosened.
On July 20th, the carrier will launch its first two routes from London: The first flight will head east to Hong Kong, with another heading west to Orlando.
On July 21st, the airline’s other three routes will be relaunched, allowing for travel between London and Shanghai, New York (JFK), and Los Angeles.
Are you still waiting for a refund from Virgin Atlantic? Let us know in the comments.