Last January we used our local Flight Centre travel agent to book what we hoped would be the holiday of a lifetime – a £5,790 15-day cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam in May.
Of course this didn’t happen and, at the end of March, Flight Centre informed us the trip was cancelled. We requested a refund, and while we were sympathetic to the difficulties caused by Covid-19, and expected to wait some time, this is still dragging on.
We were first told the money would be processed and sent back to our local Flight Centre by 31 July. On 11 August the tour operator confirmed it had sent the money to the agent but despite several promises and repeated calls, we are no closer to being refunded.
If we had £1 for every similar travel complaint we have received in recent months, the Guardian would be a very rich newspaper. Flight Centre told us that, like many others in the travel industry, it has been struggling to process claims such as yours. Happily, it has apologised and repaid the money to your credit card.
The Covid crisis has exposed the opaque relationship between travel agents and the airlines/tour operators providing the trips, particularly the online-only agents. If the travel industry ever gets back to normal, one of the lessons we should learn from recent months is that booking direct has huge advantages when things go wrong.
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