Travel Innovation Group Bulletin 4 from Michael Edwards, Managing Director - 17 April 2020
Not a great deal has changed over the days since my last bulletin – take that as good or bad! I have in that time however enjoyed speaking to those of our trade partners who’ve requested a telephone meeting with me via the online request portal. I’ve learnt plenty and hopefully been able to impart some useful information too. For those still wishing to speak with me or the most relevant member of my management team; be it feedback on bulletin content, what you’d like to see in future issues/publications, your experiences during this current madness, etc. – the portal remains accessible to submit a meeting request.
As confirmed in the last Bulletin, we successfully completed our Refund cycle due by this Thursday 16 April (as you’ll see in section 2 overleaf). Our team are now handling the next cycle of re-payments to you, for which we have received BSP repayments on behalf of Aviate refunds as scheduled from IATA. At time of publishing, we are awaiting to receive Lime’s from British Airways, which is due today. Re-payments of Refunds, where due, remains our top focus.
Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to finalise our plans to re-establish our telephone lines for working from home. As soon as we have a plan we will share.
REFUNDS (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) - current status
By close of business on 16 April, all eligible refund requests processed up to 15 March were paid to 217 of our tour operator customers.
Due to legal restrictions, for those bookings paid originally on a Credit or Debit Card, then we have refunded these back to the original form of payment (valid for any such repayments made to you from 15 April). Apologies that we had not highlighted this refunding method earlier, however this necessity was only highlighted to us by our credit card merchant provider on Wednesday. Please watch your card statement for the refund to appear. Please note, where a credit or debit card was used for the original payment of your booking then future refund payments will be made back to this original form of payment.
Refund Timeline Table
Exceptions: As previously highlighted, if, due to the airline’s policy, a refund must be processed via the Offline BSP facility (this method will be confirmed on your refund email confirmation) , we are in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them which will affect when we can make the payment back to you the tour operator. Unfortunately, these may take considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.
*We will need these clear funds from IATA / the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.
REFUNDS (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) - current status
all want to persuade our clients to re-book and keep their original flight bookings live where possible. As you know many airlines have put policies in place to allow this by turning the original ticket into an Exchange Travel Credit/EMD. Of course we recognise in many cases the clients would prefer a Refund of their holiday including their flight element. Unfortunately, as you are aware, not all airlines are allowing this.
Airline policies and processes vary. We have summarised the policies of some of our key airlines in a table overleaf, though more comprehensive details are available for Lime/British Airways here, Aviate airlines here and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore here.
Accepting/Redeeming Exchange Travel Credit via our systems:
To accept the Exchange Travel Credit under each airline’s policy;
1 - Login into your original booking online via your Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore account.
2 - Make note of the original PNR and e-ticket numbers for future reference when you come to rebook.
3 - Use the ‘Disruption Cancellation’ button in the ‘Display Booking’ screen within the booking. (This function will remove the original sectors in the booking but keep open the e-ticket).
To redeem your Exchange Travel Credit:
1 - Login to the system in which you booked your original tickets, via Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore websites.
2 - Create a new booking in the normal way (as per and within restrictions on each airline’s policy) and enter in the reference field (found on the ‘Passenger Details’ page), the original PNR reference and ‘C19’ to identify it as a COVID rebooking.
3 - As airline policies can change at any given time, we strongly recommend that you request ticket issue on your new booking as soon as created, but, of course in any case, prior to the new bookings’ Ticketing Time Limit.
4 - Ticketing must be requested directly with our Customer Support team:
Virgin Atlantic Flightstore: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 - We will then organise ticketing of the new booking and if required collect any additional fare/tax requiring to be paid at the time.
Accepting and redeeming your Exchange Travel Credit via your GDS:
To our customers who use Sabre, Galileo or Worldspan to make their bookings we recommend the following actions to secure Exchange Travel Credit. For Amadeus customers, the above process via our systems should be used.
1 - Cancel the flight itinerary
2 - Add in a Retention line (see guide overleaf)
3 - End transaction - this will ensure the value held in your e-tickets is not lost should flights go into No Show state.
4 - Rebook new dates in same PNR when your customer is ready. Again as airline policies can change at any given time, we strongly recommend that you request ticket issue on your new booking as soon as created, but, of course in any case, prior to the new bookings’ Ticketing Time Limit
5 - Request ticketing directly with our Customer Support team as per above contact details
Retention line entries:
Worldspan: TNZZMK1MIS20DEC/AN-RETENTION SEGMENT (1 means number of passengers, 20Dec is the live until date)
Sabre: 0OTHAAGK1MIA20DEC-RETENTION LINE
Galileo: RT.T /DATE*KEEP BOOKING LIVE
Note: The above processes should be used in conjunction with the airline’s relevant policy. Please be aware that if you request issuance of tickets without explicit reference to it being an Exchange Travel Credit, or issue via the online systems, then that credit will not be applied and may be forfeited for that booking.
In addition to airline keeping tickets open some airlines available via Aviate are now offering the option of an EMD as a travel voucher. Some of those airlines include Air France/KLM, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Thai.
What is an EMD and how will it benefit you and your customers?
- EMD works like an e-ticket, with an electronic document issued for the value of the passenger’s tickets; this value is stored by Aviate.
- An EMD can give an extended period of rebooking, normally one year from the date of the EMD creation, but varies by airline policy.
- Some airlines offer additional benefits with EMDs, such as additional % value* on the credit, or enabling any passenger to travel using the value of the EMD.
- Our systems are being amended to reflect bookings which hold an EMD credit
*of applicable fare and YQ/YR.
KEY TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 3 - 14 APRIL 2020
May Flights - News on May’s flight disruptions and subsequent processes