What to look out for with Lastminute's Covid refunds policy

Father and daughter looking at airplane – Getty

Gill Charlton has been fighting for Telegraph readers and solving their travel problems for more than 30 years, winning refunds, righting wrongs and suggesting solutions. She takes on a different case each week – so please send your problems to her for consideration at asktheexperts@telegraph.co.uk. Please give your full name and, if your dispute is with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. Gill can’t answer every question, but she will help where she can and all emails are acknowledged.

This week's question…

Dear Gill,

In April we booked four return flights to Cyprus with Lastminute, flying from London to Larnaca with British Airways, costing £1,446 in total. Following a reappraisal of the Covid-19 risk in June, we decided to cancel the flights as allowed under Lastminute’s Covid cancellation guarantee – and I received a confirmatory email.

For three months the booking manager on Lastminute’s site continued to show our status as: “airline notified, awaiting refund”. When I queried the lack of progress, I was told that BA had not yet processed the refund.

Last month I spoke to BA, which said vouchers for the cancelled flights had been sent to Bravofly (part of the LM group) on June 23. I went back to Lastminute and spoke to an agent who said he would raise the issue with management. He said I would receive an email in the next day or so with the option of either vouchers or a cash refund. I have heard nothing more. Can you help?

– CB

Dear CB,

It is unlikely you will receive a cash refund because, when the flight is cancelled by the customer, BA only issues vouchers for future use.

I asked Lastminute to find out what had gone wrong here. It escalated your complaint to a senior agent who discovered that only two of the eight vouchers had been sent on by BA. He called the airline which immediately released the other six, one for each flight.

Lastminute says it cannot explain the delay and can only assume that the agent was unaware of how to request the missing vouchers. He also misinformed you about the option of a cash refund. Your flexible cancellation guarantee only allows you to rebook the flights on other dates.

This is also why you have been refunded only £1,209, which is £237 less than you paid. When a customer cancels a flight, Lastminute refunds only the amount it paid the airline for the flight tickets and not its service fees.

Online flight booking agents can offer attractive fares and stitch together complex flight itineraries, but if you are buying a simple return fare it is better to buy direct from the airline in case you need to make changes.

BA issues e-vouchers in the form of a ticket number which you enter on the screen when paying for a new flight. The vouchers can be used by others.

As I recently discovered, the voucher number sometimes refuses to apply itself to the reservation file and you will need to contact the airline to book.

For more expert travel advice, visit our Essential Travel Advice section.

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