Canceled flights, EasyJet and Alitalia also adjust to the voucher: vouchers instead of refunds


Even the last “virtuosos” have succumbed. EasyJet and Alitalia, two airlines that have distinguished themselves until a few weeks ago for continuing to reimburse customers for flights canceled due to the Coronavirus emergency, now only provide a voucher. It means that those who have not been able to fly will no longer review the money spent but will have to book another trip within a year. The effects – harmful to consumers – of Law 27 of 2020, which converted the Cura Italia decree and which, in article 88 bis, allow all transport companies to issue the voucher unilaterally, without “any form of acceptance by the recipient “. A rule that, however, could have the days counted after Antitrust rejected it in no uncertain terms because it is in contrast with European legislation.
The law passed by Parliament is a boon especially for airlines, which since the start of the pandemic have grounded almost all of their aircraft with losses measurable in billions of euros and thousands of jobs. Italian law thus transforms customers into a kind of “bank” for carriers, who can keep their money in the safe without providing the service, at least for the moment. But the spotlight of the European Commission has turned on this text, which has already sent a “letter of encouragement” to several countries, including Italy, to modify the text and restore the freedom of choice between coupon and refund. And to make the latter more attractive, for example by giving the possibility to transfer it to third parties, to be reimbursed if it has not been flown in the year of validity and to protect customers from the risk of insolvency of the companies. All features absent from the vouchers issued to Italian travelers. Also because Law 27 does not provide for any of these.Specifically, EasyJet began to inform its customers by email a few days ago, underlining that “the choice of the instrument with which to make the eventual refund of the ticket price falls solely on the company”. And the tool, needless to say, is the voucher that can be used within a year. Contacted by Repubblica, EasyJet reiterates that this policy is in compliance with Italian legislation “and applies until next September 30. The British carrier specifies that, whoever does not want to change the ticket immediately, will receive an additional 10 euro voucher which is added to that already matured.

Alitalia, on its website, gives little room for interpretation. Those who have had a canceled flight will receive a registered voucher (therefore, not transferable to third parties) which can be used within one year of its issue. The flag carrier had distinguished itself, in recent months, for having returned to its travelers 70 million euros of tickets for flights that had never left, as mentioned by the extraordinary commissioner Giuseppe Leogrande before the Chamber Transport Commission.

RyanAir, another company that guaranteed refunds in the Covid era, did not answer our question, that is if after the approval of law 27/2020 it changed lines, but “some customers informed us that, after the promise of the cash by RyanAir, that money was then converted into a voucher “, explains Massimiliano Dona, president of the National Consumer Union (UNC), one of the most active against the” package free “voucher. And in the rare cases in which an airline recognizes the reimbursement – it happened with Etihad – the travel agencies “took the money, giving the consumer a voucher” adds Dona, specifying that the practice “is allowed by law, which is was hastily written. ” A law which, however, Antitrust has already said it is ready to disapply if it is not modified.

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