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Holiday firm Jet2 promises end to family’s flight refund fiasco

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A family has thanked the Cambridge Independent for intervening after an airline told them they couldn’t have a refund for cancelled flights and then closed down its call centre to incoming calls.

Zander and Caroline Mears were expecting to have the £1200 they spent on holiday flights to Madeira for May half term with their four children returned when travel restrictions were imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, airline Jet2 sent an email to dad of four Zander Mears to say he had cancelled the flights himself - which was not the case -, and therefore they would not be refunded.

The Mears family (34078103)
The Mears family (34078103)

Caroline Mears said: “On March 13 we got a text from Jet2 saying the flights were cancelled, which we totally understood because Madeira had imposed a 14 day quarantine. The text stated they would be in touch to arrange a refund. We didn’t hear anything from them but decided not to chase them because we received another email from them saying ‘sorry that you haven’t heard from us but we are working through our bookings in date order and will be in touch then’. That was March 20.

“And we weren’t panicking because they had mentioned a refund twice. Our plan was to rebook next year anyway because we still wanted to go and visit the children’s grandad in Madeira

“I then received a missed call with no message left on April 4, and when I went to ring it back I realised it was Jet2. But you could not speak to anybody because their call centre was now closed.

“We then received an email saying we had until the end of April to re-book our flights so we spoke to relatives who were on the same flight as us and decided we were going to book for next Easter. But on April 22 we received an email saying ‘thank you for cancelling your flights and Jet2 is a non-refundable airline’. And from the minute they sent that email cancelling we couldn’t even log on with our booking ID because it said it had expired.

“Interestingly the people we know on the same flight as us haven’t received this email. We are unable to contact Jet2 because they are not taking phone calls. The children were devastated. The flights cost £1200 and we cannot afford to lose that sort of money. It was doubtful we would be able to go and see grandad next year if we didn’t get the refund.

“We are absolutely disgusted that Jet2 only tried to contact us once before they cancelled our flights. They mentioned a refund many times, we were happy to rebook and then they took the opportunity away from us and just cancelled them.”

The Mears family on a previous trip to Madeira to visit the children's grandfather (34078105)
The Mears family on a previous trip to Madeira to visit the children's grandfather (34078105)

When confronted by the family’s story, Jet2 spokesman James Pieslak said: “When we have been cancelling the flights for some reason the system has sent out an auto generated email which basically is what Zander received saying about the flights being non-refundable. Which is obviously incorrect so what we have been doing is we have sent out a separate communication to affected customers and Zander has received that.

“It is entitled important refund information. It says we are sorry your flight is no longer going ahead. We will refund the total cost of your booking and this will be credited to the card you paid within the next 28 days.”

The spokesman admitted they had closed down their call centre and there was no way for customers to get in touch about a refund.

The Mears , children Arthur and Tabitha with mum Caroline (34078107)
The Mears , children Arthur and Tabitha with mum Caroline (34078107)

He said; “We have closed our call centre, that is true,” and he added, “ We are getting in touch with everyone proactively. In order for us to do that quicker we aren't taking inbound calls, they are doing outbound calls only in order to get through the customers whose flights and holidays have been cancelled so we can discuss their options with them (and ask) do they want to rebook or have a refund. Whatever option the customer takes, we will be doing that.

If Zander feels confused I can understand.”

He explained the call centre was shut as it couldn’t deal with the volume of calls from customers wanting their money back.

“The number of calls we were getting was completely flooding our contact centre. It was a completely unprecedented number of calls. We will contact people in departure day order which we think is only fair so if you were due to travel in early may you will be getting contacted before someone who is due to travel in early June”

The company says all of its flights have been cancelled until June 17 due to travel restrictions.

Other members of the family who were on the same flight are waiting to hear about their refunds. Mrs Mears said: “ I am extremely pleased that the Cambridge Independent helped me out as I don’t believe this would have been sorted out otherwise.”

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