Because of “unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” easyJet has stopped all commercial flights and grounded all its 344 Airbus aircraft across Europe. It may continue to operate some repatriation flights at government request.
Here’s everything you need to know.
When will easyJet start up again?
The airline says: “At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights. We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”
But the airline says it has agreed with the Unite union to furlough all its UK-based cabin crew during April and May. I interpret that to mean easyJet does not expect to start operations on a meaningful scale until June at the earliest.
The current Foreign Office warning against non-essential travel abroad continues until 16 April 2020 but is likely to be extended.
I have an easyJet flight booked before the end of May. What are my options?
The crucial thing is: has the flight been formally cancelled? If it has, then you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days under European air passengers’ rights rules.
For the avoidance of doubt, that includes any return flight linked to the cancelled service.
So if you were planning to fly on 1 April to Spain and back again on 1 June, then you can get your money back – but only when you get official notification that the outbound flight is cancelled, or the day of departure goes past and it doesn’t take off.
Many bookings for the next two months are still shown as operating normally.
The airline is allowing passengers to postpone their journeys or to take a credit voucher. In a world in which future flight options are uncertain and everyone needs cash, neither of these choices is optimal.
How do I get a cash refund?
It used to be so easy: when easyJet cancelled a flight, passengers would be sent a link that took them to the booking and they could request their money back online within seconds.
But easyJet – along with British Airways – has removed that option in a bid to persuade passengers to take vouchers instead.
To get actual money back you must phone the airline.
But I can’t get through on the phone
That is the story from thousands of passengers who simply want their money back for a service that easyJet (or British Airways) can’t deliver. The airline says: “We are currently receiving an extremely high volume of calls and we understand the inconvenience this may cause.”
You have a year from the date of the flight in which to call.
Rather than the published number, you could try 0161 774 9879 – which is the number for overseas calls. Press 1 for English and wait (the hold music is pretty good, thankfully).
I have asked the Civil Aviation Authority to look into the airlines’ decision to disable the online refund function.
Aren’t I due compensation when an airline cancels a flight?
The European air passengers’ rights rules prescribed payments for short-notice cancellations of up to €600 (£535) per person. But airlines need not pay if the cancellation is clearly beyond its control. The authorities accept that this is clearly the case with these cancellations.
Can I get a refund for flights booked in June?
Not yet. The presumption is that flights will go ahead. Wait until May to see what the picture is then.
I desperately need to fly. What can I do?
Use another airline. British Airways and other airlines are running both long- and short-haul operations from Heathrow. Departures on Monday morning include BA to many European cities as well as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Manchester, as well as Boston and Tokyo.
Iberia has multiple flights to and from Madrid, while Aer Lingus has services to Dublin and Shannon.
Ryanair is operating a skeleton service of links between UK airports and Ireland with some flights to and from Continental Europe.
Will easyJet survive?
Yes. Like British Airways, Jet2 and Ryanair, easyJet is financially strong and well managed, and will be able to secure funding to see it through the coronavirus crisis.
My package holiday includes easyJet flights. Who do I ask for a refund?
Your contract is with the tour operator (the firm that put your holiday together). It should provide a full refund within 14 days. But Abta, the travel trade association is warning that many travel companies cannot meet this deadline.