Ouch! Israel Will Now Allow Airlines To Delay Issuing Flight Refunds For Years

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Last week Israel agreed to potentially take control of El Al if a private buyer can’t be found for the struggling carrier.

El Al owes passengers some $350MM in refunds for flights that were cancelled.

Israeli law requires airlines to provide cash refunds for cancelled flights within 21 days. Back in April, Israel extended that timeframe to 90 days, but still required cash refunds.

But with the government potentially on the hook for providing refunds, Arutz Sheva is reporting that Israel has temporarily nixed the requirement for airlines to offer refunds for cancelled flights and that airlines can provide vouchers instead of cash refunds.

Under the new law, airlines that cancelled flights between March 1-August 31, 2020 can now get away with offering a voucher instead of a refund. That timeframe can be extended until May 31, 2021.

DDF member Hocker sent me this link to the actual law and Arutz Sheva appears to be missing a key detail of the new law.

What Arutz Sheva didn’t report is that if you don’t use the voucher or only use part of it, you are still eligible for a cash refund for the unused balance. However you won’t be able to request that refund until 21 days before the voucher expires.

The voucher that can be offered must be transferable to other passengers.

That voucher validity must be at least one year, but I don’t see anything in the law stopping an airline from making the voucher validity 3, 5, 10 or even 20 years in order to avoid having to pay a cash refund anytime soon. That’s a giant loophole!

While this new law will be a windfall for airlines and the Israeli government, it ignores that many consumers are out of work and can’t afford to be effectively forced to bail out an airline with an interest free loan.

Under the new law, airlines will also be exempt from paying any penalties for delayed or cancelled flights during the same time period.

El Al previously promised to offer refunds when they reopen. Now they can delay refunds for years.

Of course Israeli law doesn’t preempt laws in other countries.

Passengers on flights to or from the US can file a DOT complaint against any airline that cancels a flight and doesn’t provide a timely cash refund. Filing a DOT complaint has been the primary method that has worked for getting a refund from El Al.

Air Canada has decided to use the Canada Transportation Board’s guidance to refuse refunds and tell the DOT to back off. The DOT has yet to rule on that case and it remains to be seen if El Al will also try that tactic to avoid US law.

The European Union also requires airlines to provide timely cash refunds for cancelled flights, though I haven’t heard of El Al refunding cancelled Europe flights.

Have you been able to receive a refund for your flight to or from Israel?

HT: LeeLee18, via DDF and hocker

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44 Comments On "Ouch! Israel Will Now Allow Airlines To Delay Issuing Flight Refunds For Years"

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Canadian

Interesting that I don’t hear the Israel bashing that Canada got

moe8555

This is a very problematic change in my opinion, as it calls into question the most fundamental unspoken agreements upon which society, contracts, and commerce are based upon.

I would like to now see how the Israeli Supreme Court could possibly justify and uphold adverse action against scores of other covid-impacted businesses that see this as a green light to simply ignore consumer protection laws and offer store credit to patrons instead of cash refunds.

AF

PayPal was very helpful. They refunded the full amount after about four weeks of waiting.

OD

But has the new law taken effect?

Steven

I have 7 tickets for an August 2nd flight on El Al. I guess when it is closer and they officially cancel, I will fill out the El Al refund page. I assume I will follow up with the DOT complaint. Do I file 1 singled DOT complaint for my whole family, or 7 separate complaints one per ticket listing each family member separately?

Tzvi

Still waiting for my promised refund from Aeroflot. Anyone have an update on how long it takes to process?

Tidbit

I disputed via Chase an Aeroflot ticket Pesach time, and B”H was credited.

Sholom Kaufman

I disputed the charges for a 6/22-7/14 trip that never happened. Can I still file the DOT?

Moshele

Are there any halachic issues with filing a DOT complaint against ELAL?

Ilana

i also have a coming El Al flight on the 2nd of August. Did you find out if there are any halachic issues with filing a DOT complaint? will appreciate your response.

Mendy

An anonymous comment section is not a great source for this info. AYLOR

Ben

I filed for a refund for early June round trip tickets and after a few weeks of waiting called my CC customer service and disputed those ticket charges and my account was credited

flyer

Hi Dan first of all thnx for all the posts we love them very informative and helpful ! was wondering what ur take is on this post/this new law do u think it has anything to do with the rumor/deal thats in the making with Ken Rozenberg buying out elal?? also why would it be worth it for any business man to buy off elal??? whoever buys it does he have enough power to change things around?? and do u think if he buys it will elal be better for the Orthodox jews???
thnx

Mendy

I had 2 delta flights to isreal with miles for this past Sunday, (108,000 sky miles) called them, and got the refund within a minute, and the taxes ($88) came in 2 days later

bs

if i have a vocher with delta, can i get a cash refund 21 days before it expires?

Max

@Dan, do you have any idea about this?

Yossi

My flight is not until August 4th. Should I file a DOT complaint yet or is it better to wait until it’s officially cancelled? Also, can I dispute the CC charge yet or wait on that also?

Yehudah

Trip.com gave me a run around to refund my Air Serbia canceled flight until I made a DOT complaint and sent it to them. Then they told me that they requested a refund from Air Serbia but can not give it to me until they receive it from Air Serbia. I told them that I will just dispute my cc charge. They didn’t respond to that. I plan to do that tomorrow.

Yakov

What’s the best recourse for a cancelled flight from Toronto not touching the U.S. (i.e. not subject to the DOT rules)?

Ss

My trip to israel after pesach was booked through chase.com using points. Whst is the best way to recoup the kids?

Ss

Whoops. Recoup the loss

zevi

had a flight to England late march with elal to Luton which they cancelled. I waited on hold for 40 min and they said I would receive a refund in 30 days (which is of course was illegal. See above article that the timeframe was 21 days). I asked for confirmation email. I got neither email nor refund. After DoT complaints (thought I would try as a US citizen even though it was UK flight) online refund forms and nasty follow-up emails they finally got me the refund in late June.
I just want my interest for the loan…

yak

You have a heter iska?

Ivana

What is the downside of tthe US Govt. prohibiting all Air Canada and all el Al flights to/from USA until they pay up their pax refunds?

Ben

Did a Amex dispute fully taken care of just the way to go since elal was unresponsive and had many friends who tried filing dot complaints and didn’t either hear back so no choice but to dispute but thankfully Amex fullybacked me.

E&N

I had 3 flights that were cancelled through this mess with different airlines. I used Chase Sapphire Reserve to buy the tickets. Disputed the charges with Chase and sent them documentation of the airlines cancelling the flights. They gave me a temporary credit for the full amounts and gave the airlines 2 months to explain why I should be charged. Two months later the temporary credits were made final.

Sholom Kaufman

That’s what I’m waiting for. They didn’t request documentation of the cancellation though.

gemarakop

great tactic make united look customer friendly people will think twice before saving a couple dollars on el al vrs delta/united

RR

I have 6 tickets with delta for aug 4. Some were purchased with chase miles and some on credit card. What’s the best way to get full Refund?

FreakwentFlyer

https://m.ynet.co.il/articles/57731690P
Looks like it’s going downhill if today was even possible.

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