Voucher woe for passengers after low-cost airline Norwegian stops US service

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“Circumstances change quickly now so beware credits – you could end up with ones you don’t want or can’t easily use,” warn a family as they struggle to unlock the £1,600 they have with Norwegian and condemn its “inflexibility”.

Early last year Greg Jones booked three seats for his wife and two daughters to attend a wedding in New York in August which travel restrictions then made impossible.

When Norwegian cancelled Greg was offered either a refund or cash points that added some £300 to the value.

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++ If you’ve been affected by this issue or feel you’ve been a victim of injustice, please contact consumer and small business champion Maisha Frost on [email protected] ++

“This was helpful but the main thing in our minds was the destination and the event,” he says. “It is where my wife and children wanted to go, so accepting the credit conversion seemed sensible, not something ridden with hidden pitfalls. We took it in good faith.”

But as the travel industry fought to survive the pandemic, since February Norwegian has stopped flying from the UK to the States.

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“For us that means the points now are unusable, we don’t want to go to the other places. We need the £1,600,” claims Greg who runs a small business which has also been hit hard by lockdown.

Angered by the “unhelpful and indifferent responses” from the airline’s customer services he contacted Crusader.

When we asked Norwegian for a sympathetic review given the circumstances and that it might help customer retention in the future, we got a similar response. 

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A spokesperson said: “At the time of choosing cashpoints instead of a cash refund the terms and conditions, that have to be accepted by the customer before proceeding, were clear that they could not then be transferred to a cash amount at a later date. Cashpoints remain valid across our short haul network.”

But Greg makes the relevant point, shared we know by others, that the offer he accepted was based on dramatically different circumstances all round that should count in customers’ rights.

“This is not a level playing field where an agreement stands despite one side changing the fundamentals,” he claims.

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Before Greg concedes, issuing court proceedings personally or through a no-win no-fee legal route could be a consideration, but must be based on the details of the cash points contract.

Greg’s name has been changed

Be aware of EU 261 rules (also applying in the UK), advises flight compensation expert Coby Benson at law firm Bott and Co. These entitle customers to a full refund if an airline cancels. If reimbursement is not offered, or supplied less prominently or subjected to a cumbersome process a voucher is not valid and passengers are entitled to a refund at any time. See Bott’s holiday refunds guide.

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