Airlines in Norway have been too slow in refunding passengers, Consumer Council warns

SAS - NorwegianPhoto: Gorm Kallestad / NTB
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The Norwegian Consumer Council believes the refund and reimbursement process for canceled flights has been very slow and none of the domestic airlines in Norway managed to refund their consumers in the mandatory 7-day period.

After several passengers experienced problems demanding and receiving reimbursement for canceled flights amid the nationwide lockdown in Norway, Norway Today decided to contact the Norwegian Consumer Council and get some clarification when it comes to passenger rights related to reimbursement.

Air passengers’ rights ensured under EU-regulation 261

During an exclusive interview with Norway Today, the Norwegian Consumer Council stated that Norwegian consumers, along with all EU/EEA-citizens, have the right to a refund of a canceled airline-ticket.

The right follows from EU-regulation 261 on air passengers’ rights. The passengers can choose between re-routing or refund. However, during a pandemic, re-routing is seldom chosen.

Norway Today recently reported that several passengers, who purchased tickets through intermediaries or agents – such as travel agencies, booking companies, or websites that arrange flights – contacted the Consumer Council after facing hardships in seeking and receiving reimbursement for canceled flights.

Consumer Council spokesperson Maren Van Buren Struksnæs said that “passengers can claim a refund from the airline directly, and the airline is then obliged to refund the consumer within seven days.

“None of the domestic airlines in Norway managed to refund (passengers) within this deadline,” she noted.

She also added that the European Consumer Centres Network-website has all the information for consumers. It’s available here.

An automated refund process?

Advocating for an automated refund process, the Council said that Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) has been slow in refunding the passengers and is still not done with all the refunds.

“We have had several meetings with SAS, and they have fines pending from the Civil Aviation Authority if they do not complete the refunds within the year,” Struksnæs said.

“The ideal scenario is an automated refund process, where consumers who choose the refund automatically get their money back. The present regulation, EU261, does outline such an automated system,” she added.

The Council also said that they had several meetings with Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority, and both sides are coordinating to resolve the situation.

When asked whether the overall reimbursement and refund process has been a simple, fair, and satisfying one, Struksnæs said: “Understandably, the sheer volume of refund claims takes time (to process), but many consumers have been waiting for quite some time now.”

What legal steps can consumers take if refunds don’t materialize?

According to the Council, the consumers have a clear legal right to get their money refunded.

The airlines don’t dispute the right – the current situation is mostly a case of lack of will or ability to refund passengers, not a rejection of refunding claims.

Consumers can place a complaint with the National Enforcement Body (NEB) in the country where the problem arose or they can make the case at any local court.

A stand-alone legal procedure is likely to take more time.

What if airlines are reluctant to refund passengers?

If an airline seems reluctant to make a refund, the consumer can demand chargeback from their credit card provider.

A chargeback is an insurance on your credit card that provides you with the opportunity to claim a refund directly from your bank in cases where a trader owes you money.

Simply put, it is the return of the payment, usually as a response to the cardholder’s demands for a refund.

To demand chargeback, the consumer must first demand a refund from the airline.

If the airline does not comply, the consumer can forward the claim to the bank that issued the credit card.

Chargebacks are regulated by Norwegian law when using a credit card (Norwegian Financial Contracts Act § 54b).

Source: Norway Today

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