Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve been applying agile working principles across our business to ensure our clients are getting the support they need in the areas they need us the most.
Our refunds team was increased by over 400% to help process the refund requests with airlines and hotels around the world. While initially there was a backlog to work through, due to the sheer volume, our refunds team are now up-to-date and processing refund requests quickly.
We also listened to what you needed and created a new and innovative “Ticket Status Report” which allows you to see at a glance how many tickets you still have active, have been canceled, changed etc. It gives a holistic view of your total travel spend and if there are still refunds outstanding etc.
You may still be waiting for the monies to be returned to you and there are a few reasons for this:
- We don’t hold onto your funds – as soon as airline tickets are issued, the money is sent to the airline, so when they cancel a flight, we request the monies to be returned. As you’ll appreciate, airlines especially are under extreme financial pressure and have significant backlogs to work through so refunds are taking much longer than normal. As soon as we receive the money back from the provider, we credit this back to your account.
- Refund applications could traditionally all be processed automatically via the GDS so we had control over the request. In normal operating times, automated refunds were taking approx. 6-8 weeks to be returned however with the high volumes, we’re seeing periods now of approximately 12-16 weeks.
- Unfortunately, as a result of the extreme financial pressure, some airlines are no longer allowing automated refunds and we’re now only able to process these directly with the airline. We, along with organisations such as IATA and BTA (Business Travel Association) are pressuring airlines to revert to automated refunds as manual refunds require human intervention and approval. For these airlines, we’re in constant discussion to understand how long refunds are taking and when we can expect the monies to returned to us.
- Certain airlines are advising they won’t process any refunds/vouchers until the pandemic is over in order to reserve cashflow – these requests may take 12 months to process.
As a member of The Business Travel Association, we will continue to lobby on your behalf to pressure airlines to reinstate automated processes, follow IATA guidelines for refunds and give realistic timelines for the payment of manual refunds.