In the month of March, 15,775 flights were to be departed from airports in the Netherlands. The vast bulk of it was canceled due to government measures, but nearly 500 flights were canceled for other reasons.
That says EUclaim, an agency that helps passengers receive compensation from airlines in the event of culpable delay or cancellation for a fee. To that end, the agency collects data on all flights.
Since April, these agencies have been able to claim virtually nothing because there are hardly any flights. "We are still often asked for advice," said a company spokesperson. "Especially about the vouchers airlines now give when they cancel a flight."
Usually the advice is to accept that voucher, because a possible judicial process takes more time than it takes to eventually get your money back. The companies still have to return their money to customers after a maximum of one year if they have not used the voucher.
Informed two weeks in advance, you will get nothing
Euclaim still expects a battle with the airlines over any claims for the month of March. "Suppose KLM had five flights a day between Schiphol and Barcelona and, when the question collapsed, a flight was taken out," the spokesman explained. "The passengers of one flight have been rebooked on other flights if they wanted to, but that does not alter the fact that the one flight has been canceled. So there is a compensation for that."
The spokesman speaks here of "a gray area". When the authorities prohibit certain flights, such as the US did for all incoming flights in mid-March, this is force majeure and no additional compensation is payable. "The same applies if companies cancel the flight at least two weeks before departure and let us know."
The travelers are then informed in good time. Passengers are always entitled to a refund when a airline removes a flight from the schedule. However, since the corona crisis, airlines are not giving back money, but vouchers. That is tolerated by the ministry.