Flybe collapse: Your rights explained

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Regional airline Flybe has announced that it has ceased to operate after failing to raise additional funding. It leaves passengers having to find alternative ways to travel and out-of-pocket for fares. So what rights do Flybe’s customers have?

Will I lose my flight booking?

Yes, the collapse of an airline means planes are grounded and services are cancelled.

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There are no alternatives for most people other than to book another flight.

The Civil Aviation Authority stepped in to help people get home following the collapse of Monarch and Thomas Cook, on the direction of the government, even though under the strict letter of the regulations it did not always need to.

Will the cost of that flight be refunded?

A refund from the airline is highly unlikely. The majority of Flybe travellers bought flight tickets separately, not as part of a package holiday.

That means most will have to rely on a refund from their credit or debit card provider, or possibly by claiming from their travel insurance.

But didn’t Thomas Cook customers get a refund?

Many of those who had bought a holiday from Thomas Cook but found it was cancelled when the travel company collapsed were covered by the Atol scheme.

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Reuters

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Thomas Cook collapsed late in 2019

Those in that situation were refunded under the scheme. However, relatively few customers of Flybe have booked full package holidays.

Buying a flight and hotel separately means the threat of losing the money paid for both.

Experts say it is a good idea to explain the situation to the accommodation provider and checking to see if they have any flexibility – either a refund, or different dates for a stay if an affordable flight with another carrier cannot be found.

How likely is my insurer to cover the cost of flights and accommodation?

That all depends on the type of travel insurance policy that has been bought.

Nearly half of travel insurance policies have scheduled airline failure cover, with another 9% having it as an optional add-on which costs extra, according to figures compiled earlier this year by data analysts Defaqto.

That leaves 42% of policies without such cover, so these people would not be able to make a claim.

One benefit of cover, according to Brian Brown of Defaqto, is that the insurer should be able to find a replacement flight with another carrier – something that would inevitably become more expensive after a rival’s collapse.

What is the credit or debit card option?

Anyone who paid more than £100 on flights directly with the firm on a credit card should be able to claim a refund from their card provider. This is known as section 75 protection and is part of the Consumer Credit Act.

For cheaper purchases, or if a debit card was used, then customers can try claiming from the card provider under the chargeback system, although this is not a legal right and not always successful.

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