The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented crisis that touched nearly all industries worldwide. The aviation and tourism sector unfortunately was not exempted. Since the start of the crisis, Brussels Airlines was forced to cancel on average 83 per cent of its scheduled flight program, impacting the travel plans of three million of its passengers.
The pandemic and the worldwide travel restrictions caused a three month grounding of the airline’s fleet (from March 21st until June 14th), and urged Brussels Airlines to adapt its offer to the continuously low travel demand.
As a result, Brussels Airlines had to cancel more than 36,000 flights in total since the start of the crisis, which led in that same period to more than one million calls to the airline’s service centre. For comparison, in the entire year of 2019, the Brussels Airlines service centre handled 400,000 calls.
Unfortunately, despite a maximum number of service agents and the 24/7 call centre service, the airline regrets that it wasn’t able to provide its guests with the service level they are used to receive at Brussels Airlines and customers requesting a refund are facing long waiting times.
In total, the airline has so far received refund requests of a value of 122 million euro. Brussels Airlines has worked on a solution to speed up the process of the refund handling and is now paying out several thousands of refunds per day.
So far, 31 per cent of all refund requests have been processed and the airline expects to resolve the bulk of the refund backlog by the end of October, with the exception of the more complex requests, such as bookings involving several airlines.
“We are well aware that the last weeks and months have been extremely difficult for our passengers affected by schedule changes or flight cancellations and we sincerely apologize for the inconveniences caused by overloaded call centres and delays in terms of our response time, especially for the processing of ticket refunds. But rest assured, every passenger who is entitled to a refund and who applied for it, will be reimbursed within the coming weeks”, explains Dieter Vranckx, CEO of Brussels Airlines.
Brussels Airlines kindly asks customers who have already submitted reimbursement requests to please not call the airline on this matter, in order to keep the telephone lines open for customers who would like to travel in the near future.
Passengers holding a Brussels Airlines ticket booked before August 25th, who wish to postpone their travels or whose flight was cancelled, have maximum flexibility to use the value of their ticket later.
They have until January 31, 2021 to contact the airline to book a new flight, the new journey can take place until December 31, 2021. Since August 25, all newly booked tickets remain flexible and can be changed multiple times free of charge.
Passengers whose flights were cancelled and who do not want to make use of the rebooking options can apply for a refund using the online form on the Brussels Airlines website.
All information on rebooking and refund options can be found on www.brusselsairlines.com.