The company recently issued vouchers for tickets on canceled flights when thousands of flights were canceled. Those vouchers can be converted to cash after twelve months if the voucher was not used.
That is contrary to European legislation. According to European consumer rules, it is the right of customers to get money back if they wish. Vouchers are allowed, but always only if the customer chooses to do so.
Policy changes now
From now on, customers always have the choice between a voucher or a cash refund. The changed policy does not apply retroactively. Anyone who has previously seen their ticket canceled and accepted a voucher will be left with a voucher.
Customers whose flights have already been canceled but who have not yet applied for or received a voucher will also be subject to the old regime, a spokesperson said. This means that they cannot ask for their money back.
No choice is against the law
Contrary to EU legislation, the Dutch government did allow airlines not to give customers a choice. The Netherlands, together with other countries, had asked whether this policy could be ignored. The main argument for this is that KLM and other airlines quickly face liquidity problems if they have to repay all the money.
For Air France-KLM, this would amount to 3 billion euros, for all trips that were canceled after 1 March. That was not feasible for the company.
However, after the European Commission yesterday again lashed out at member states that allowed European rules to be trampled on, today Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen decided today to no longer turn a blind eye to companies not giving customers the choice to get their money back to ask.
KLM said that, given the magnitude of the crisis and the amount of cancellations, there will be a longer processing time. The airline company promises to come up with a plan quickly to make all vouchers more attractive, in the form of extra value.