London: British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. aren't offering refunds to passengers who cancel year-end trips because of new UK coronavirus rules, even as regulators investigate airlines' earlier refusal to hand cash back to customers caught in lockdown.
BA will grant ticket holders a voucher or let them switch to a later date, it said in an emailed statement. It said it will only refund fares if the airline cancels a flight, a policy echoed by Virgin Atlantic in a Twitter post.
The refund issue ignited a firestorm when similar curbs were in place last month. The UK Competition and Markets Authority launched a probe last week into whether airlines violated consumer rights by failing to offer passengers their money back for flights they couldn't lawfully take.
"Some airlines like EasyJet have mostly been doing the right thing and offering refunds, while others like BA only offer the option of a voucher or a rebooking," said Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer advocacy group Which?. "The CMA investigation is looking precisely into this, as the wording for Tier 4 restrictions indicates these are legal requirements, not guidance so you should be due a refund."
The latest travel rules took effect Sunday, less than a day after they were announced, catching many with holiday travel plans off-guard.
EasyJet Plc said it would offer refunds. "We understand some customers may now need to change their flights."
On Twitter, some passengers said Ryanair Holdings Plc and Aer Lingus were refusing refunds.
Aer Lingus responded online by saying it would waive change fees, while not addressing its refund policy. The airline, also owned by IAG, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Irish discounter Ryanair didn't respond to requests for comment.