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No entitlement to refund for airline customers from Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Residents in the three counties have been told they should not leave unless it is essential travel.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

AIRLINE CUSTOMERS FROM the three counties currently subject to regional restrictions are not entitled to a refund if their flights goes ahead but they choose not to travel, the consumer watchdog has confirmed.

Residents in Kildare, Laois and Offaly have been told they should not leave their county unless it essential travel such as a journey to work or for medical services.

Airline customers in these counties who had holidays booked, either in other parts of the country or abroad, have been told they should remain at home. However those due to take flights during the two-week regional lockdown are not being offered refunds by airlines. 

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has said if a consumer “cannot avail of the flight, for whatever reason, they are not entitled to a refund”.

“They have the option to apply for a refund of any relevant taxes and charges from the airline, however administration fees may be applied to this process.

The CCPC said it may be an option to engage with the airline to see if they are willing to provide a remedy.

“If the consumer has taken out travel insurance on the flight or if they have an annual travel insurance policy, they should check the terms and conditions of the insurance policy or contact the insurance provider to see if this situation is covered.”

One couple who spoke to TheJournal.ie, Tracy and Daniel McCabe, had booked their flights with Ryanair to Portugal in January. They were due to travel on 10 August with their two children. 

They had already decided not to go on their holiday because Portugal is not on the government’s green travel list and they are both currently in receipt of the Covid-19 unemployment payment and were worried they would lose it. 

Daniel told TheJournal.ie that Ryanair told them they were not entitled to a refund for those reasons and would have to pay €400 to move the flights to a later date. 

“I had said to my wife we’d need a miracle to get our money back because the flights were still going ahead. Then the government announced the lockdown for Kildare and we live in Kildare. We were told not to leave our county. So I thought that was our miracle.”

McCabe said the couple expected this would mean they were entitled to a refund because the government’s regional restrictions state they should not leave Kildare. However the airline told them on that they will not be refunded as the flight still departed on Monday as planned.

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“I don’t see how the government can allow this to happen. I am now €808 out of pocket, I’m absolutely disillusioned,” he said.

“We booked our holiday well before Covid and we are people who have gone with the government recommendations all the way through this. We haven’t done anything wrong.”

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, Ryanair said: “Passengers who do not wish to travel on their booked flight can move it to another date, in which case, a flight change fee and the difference in fare may apply.”

The airline said it has issued in excess of €750 million in cash refunds, vouchers and free moves.

“We have cleared over 90% of the cash refund backlog before the end of July and are making rapid progress on clearing all remaining refund requests.”

Aer Lingus did not respond to a request for comment. The Department of Transport also did not respond. 

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