Which?! consumer group convinced Thomas Cook to pay APD back to consumers?
You might remember a few months back we told you how Thomas Cook Airlines were pocketing your Air Passenger Duty (APD) if you had to cancel or miss your flight. APD is only payable if you (the passenger) actually take off, so if you didn’t turn up for any reason, Thomas Cook just pocketed the money. On short-haul European flights this might not be a huge amount, but could add up to £332 on a flight to Goa, or £268 for a family of four travelling to destinations such as the USA and Gambia. Besides, it’s the principle that counts, right?
Now, Thomas Cook Airlines have decided to "review" this policy, and glory hunters Which! are all over this one, claiming this change of heart has only come about after they highlighted the issue. This might be true, but Which!! also showed Thomas Cook Airlines up as being the worst rated airline to fly with to the Canaries/Balearics and Greece and we’ve seen no evidence that they’ve got any better despite Which!!!’s efforts.
In any case, Thomas Cook Airlines have decided to go the Ryanair/Flybe route and charge £25 ‘admin fee’ when processing APD refunds, £12 more than the APD charge on European flights. Easyjet refund APD in full with no admin charge, so it can be done, but only by airlines who aren't as inefficient as the ones that spend £25 in staff hours looking for the misplaced APD in order to return it to the customer who paid it. After all, it couldn’t possibly be just a ploy to keep customers money...
A Which!!!! Travel expert (Richard Lloyd must be on holiday this week) said: ‘We welcome the fact that Thomas Cook Airlines has responded to our research on APD refunds by improving its policy. We're pleased that consumers cancelling long-haul flights will no longer lose out unnecessarily on up to hundreds of pounds of APD. However, we are disappointed there will be an admin charge that is higher than the APD for flights within Europe, making it pointless for some short-haul customers to apply for a refund.'