MARTIN Lewis' MoneySavingExpert has revealed how to win back hundreds of pounds on flights.
A fan of the site managed to win back over £400 by going through small claims court, according to MoneySavingExpert.com.
Nick Blades, from Gloucestershire, successfully argued he should have been given a refund for a Ryanair flight he didn't take due to Government advice not to travel during thepandemic.
The airline had initially refused to grant him a refund for a flight he had booked from Bristol to Malaga.
It was set to depart on 30 July, 2020, at a time when official advice was against non-essential travel.
The 65-year-old was refused a refund twice, first when he complained and again when he escalated the complaint.
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Ryanair argued that Nick shouldn't be refunded because the flight hadn't been cancelled.
Nick decided to take his case to small claims court, skipping any Chargeback or other external complaint route.
He was awarded £429, which included the price of his flight and the £90 in court fees.
After he filed court proceedings in August 2021, Nick received a letter from Ryanair's solicitors offering him a travel credit voucher worth £339.36.
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But, Nick wanted a cash refund, so he went ahead with his case.
A spokesperson for Ryanair told MSE: "While we do not comment on individual cases, our General Terms & Conditions of Carriage, which are available at every step of the booking process and which passengers expressly agree to before completing their bookings, provide that we may refuse carriage where a passenger owes money in respect of a previous flight due to payment having been recharged against us."
The decision by the small claims court is not legally binding, so it doesn't set a legal precedent.
But, it could be used as an example of case law when bringing similar complaints to court.
It comes as airline Flybe fell into administration today, with all scheduled flights cancelled.
What should I do if I couldn't make my flight due to Covid?
If you found yourself in a similar situation to Nick during the pandemic, you may also be able to get compensation.
The airline may refuse to refund you if the flight went ahead, such as in Nick's case.
Ryanair states in its T&Cs that if flights still go ahead they are non-refundable.
But, British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic all reportedly told MSE that passengers were given the option to rebook or, in some cases, request a voucher in this scenario, so it's worth going to the airline directly first.
You can complain to its 'ombudsman' – once you've given the airline eight weeks to respond.
You could also try complaining to regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
If you don't want to go to court, you could try going through your card provider, though there are no guarantees of success.
If you paid on credit card for something costing more than £100 then you can try under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
If you paid by debit card or your flight was less than £100 on credit card then try Chargeback.
It's worth noting that if you do end up going to small claims court then there are fees that apply.
Although, if you win then you'll get this money back.
If you lose you won't get fees back and you may also have to pay expenses (but not legal costs) to the other party too.
You can take complaints to the small claims court within six years from the date of the flight.
Can I get a refund or compensation if my flight is cancelled?
So long as you're faced with a certain series of events, you can usually get your money back when your holiday goes wrong.
Most passengers will be protected by what's called Denied Boarding regulations.
This means that you have to be offered either a full refund for a cancelled flight or a seat on the next possible flight, or another one at a better time.
You have to be catered for if you're left waiting a while between the cancelled flight and your new one too.
That means if you've got an overnight stay between the reimbursed flight and the time of cancellation, then you'll get meals, accommodation and transfers provided for the inconvenience.
You may also be able to get some money back if your flight is delayed by three hours or more.
How do I get back what I'm owed?
You'll have to go straight to your travel provider if you want to get back anything you're owed.
Customers can find out more information on their airline's website, usually under a "manage my booking tab".
There may also be a specific refund request page.
To claim compensation though, usually your flight needs to have departed from a UK airport, arrived into a UK airport and was with a UK or EU airline or arrived into the EU and was with a UK airline.
You could be able to claim for £220 per person on shorter journeys, and £520 on longer distances says one travel expert.
If these don't apply, you need to contact the airline to get back anything you feel you may be owed.
Why wouldn't I get my money back?
The airline doesn't have to give you a refund if the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond their control, such as extreme weather.
They'll usually say this is because it is down to an "extraordinary circumstance" but it can be a tetchy subject, and one plenty of customers prefer to contest.
You can try challenging this if you think you should have got your some money back, or at least flown in the first place.
For example, other airlines may have set off at the same time yours was kept back.
Take any complaints to aviation regulator the CAA.
You're also not going to get any money back if you were forewarned of the cancellation.
If you're told at least two weeks in advance you should have time to swap your booking without paying a penalty, at least that's the airline's thinking as they won't dish out automatic refunds.
You also won't be able to claim compensation for flights cancelled but rerouted that get you to your destination no more than two hours later than planned.
You can't of course get your money back if you do opt for the alternative flight.
Should I take any action myself?
You might be worried about putting your holiday in jeopardy amid the recent travel chaos, but jumping the gun could leave you worse off.
If you cancel your own flights without the right cover you could be refused your money back altogether.
A good way to make sure your back is covered is by getting travel insurance.
If you can't claim compensation directly through the airline, your travel insurance may refund you instead.
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Policies vary so you should check the small print, but a delay of eight to 12 hours will normally mean you qualify for some money from your insurer.
Make sure to get written confirmation of your delay from the airport as your insurer will want to see some kind of proof so to pay-out.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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