The travel airline Flybe announced on 28th January 2023 that it had been placed into administration and all flights to and from the UK have been subsequently cancelled. Flybe operated from Belfast City, Birmingham and Heathrow airports and flew to a number of airports across the UK as well as Amsterdam and Geneva. Flybe customers have been advised not to travel to the airport unless they have arranged alternative travel with another airline.
In this article, we look at what to do if you were due to travel with Flybe, how to get a refund for your Flybe booking and discounted rates on offer from other airlines.
What to do if you were due to fly with Flybe
If you were booked to travel with Flybe your flight has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled so you are advised to not travel to the airport unless you have arranged alternative travel. Some airlines are offering discounted travel for those affected by the cancellations and we go into more detail later on in the article.
What to do if you flew out with Flybe and are now stranded
Unfortunately, if you bought your Flybe tickets directly from the airline you are not covered by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) scheme and are therefore not covered for destination return flights. If you have a travel insurance policy you should contact your provider as you may be able to claim for the cost of return travel, although this is dependent on the travel insurance provider. Alternatively, if you booked your holiday through a travel agent or on a credit card you may be able to get your money back via Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or get some help to get re-booked on other flights. As Flybe operated mainly within the UK, there may also be other options available to you such as travelling back by train, or coach or you could consider car hire.
Can I get a refund for my Flybe booking?
If you were booked to travel with Flybe you may be able to claim a refund. How you can make a claim varies depending on how you paid for your Flybe tickets.
Can I get a refund if I paid by credit card?
You can claim money from the credit card company under the Section 75 Act if:
- Your flights were over £100 (if the flights are below £100 you may have some rights through the chargeback scheme)
- You paid with your credit card directly through the tour operator or airline website.
- You booked through a travel agent (and the name shows on the statement). Although some travel agent companies may give your money back so it is worth contacting them first.
For more information on your rights when paying by credit card, read our article, Section 75 Explained - your rights and how to claim.
Can I get a refund if I paid by debit card?
It is relatively difficult to claim back money if you paid via a debit card (as you are not protected under the Section 75 scheme), but it may be possible to claim via the chargeback scheme. This scheme is not legally binding, however, and therefore your money back is not guaranteed.
- There is generally a 120-day limit (this does vary depending on the scenario) but the sooner you contact your card provider the better
- Chargeback isn't very well known so you may have trouble asking for it, but be persistent as it does exist
Can I get a refund if I booked via a travel agent?
All agents in the UK are legally obliged to offer ATOL protection (a scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority) if they are selling package deals that include air travel. You can check that you are ATOL protected by locating the ATOL certificate that was issued when booking your holiday or by looking on the CAA website. The ATOL scheme provides protection in the event of airline failure which means that the travel company should find you alternate flights or refund your money. If your return flight has been cancelled while you are abroad, your ATOL-protected travel provider should find you alternative return flights.
If you booked with an online travel agent such as Expedia or Skyscanner you may not be covered (as ATOL protection does not apply to all holidays and travel listed on their website).
Can I claim on my travel insurance policy?
If you took out a travel insurance policy you should check the terms and conditions to see if you were covered for Scheduled Airline Failure (SAFI) as you may be able to make a claim. The cover for SAFI can vary between providers e.g you may be covered for purchasing return flights or you may only be covered for the original tickets purchased. Check with your travel insurance provider for the terms and conditions relating to your policy.
It is also worth considering that some travel insurance providers may request that you try and get a refund via different avenues first, such as the Section 75 scheme or via a travel agent, and you may have to provide proof that you tried to get a refund before making a travel insurance claim. Additionally, some card providers may request a negative response letter confirming the airline collapse, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says that this will be provided in due course.
Discounted travel for Flybe customers
If you still need to travel to a destination following Flybe's collapse, then you may be able to benefit from discounted rates. We share some travel companies that are offering discounted rates below:
If you are travelling between London, Belfast, Newcastle or Amsterdam you can benefit from a one-way ticket costing £50/€60 (not including taxes, fees or charges) including hold luggage up to 23kg. If you would like to book one of these tickets with BA, you can do so by calling British Airways on 0344 493 0787.
Flybe customers travelling both domestically and internationally can benefit from discounted rates of £49 and £79 respectively. Customers can also benefit from a 15kg hold bag but proof of your Flybe booking reference will need to be provided. The offer with easyJet is available for Flybe customers until 5th February and you can contact easyJet on 0330 5515151.
Flybe customers can benefit from discounted rates of £29.99 with the airline Ryanair for travel from Sunday 26th March. Flights can be booked directly on the Ryanair website.
How to ensure you are covered against an airline collapse
It is not always something that is considered when purchasing a holiday but in light of Flybe's sudden collapse (and the collapse of other similar airlines in recent years), it is worth making sure you are protected for every eventuality before you travel. Below we list some things you should look out for when booking your holiday and taking out a travel insurance policy:
- Check your travel insurance - When taking out a new travel insurance policy look for providers that offer cover for the collapse of an airline, also known as Scheduled Airline Failure (SAFI), for example, the travel insurance provider Staysure offers up to £3,000 in cover in the event of an airline collapse. Find out the best travel insurance in our article, 'The best travel insurance providers in 2023'.
- Pay via credit card - When booking your holiday try to pay via a credit card to ensure you benefit from the protection that Section 75 provides. You can then clear the balance in full but still have protection under Section 75 Consumer Credit Act.
- Look out for ATOL protection - When booking or paying for your holiday via a travel agent ensure you get ATOL protection. This will provide peace of mind should a provider go bust as you may be eligible for a refund or return flights, depending on the scenario.