Some airlines have still not refunded all tickets whose associated flights were canceled in 2020. Particularly annoying: Contrary to legal regulations, some airlines have issued "compulsory vouchers". There is a legal claim to their payment, but this may have to be sued because the statute of limitations is imminent.
In most EU countries, the statute of limitations for such claims is three years. According to the European Consumer Center, this means that claims that arose in 2020 due to canceled flights will become statute-barred by December 31, 2023 at the latest. After that, the airline can legally invoke the statute of limitations and refuse to pay out.
In 2020, many airlines deliberately flouted the legal requirement that cancellations must be reimbursed within seven days. Some carriers have speculated that a voucher solution will be allowed at EU level. However, this did not happen, but this did not prevent some providers from simply issuing vouchers anyway and, on top of that, illegally limiting them to, for example, one year. Passengers are not obliged to accept such compulsory vouchers and have a legal right to payment.
Especially when so-called online travel agents are involved in bookings, affected customers are sent on a veritable gauntlet run. In these constellations, there are a large number of cases in which no money has flowed to this day. The European Court of Justice determined a long time ago that passengers have the right to a refund directly from the airline and should therefore not be fobbed off with statements that refunds can only be made to or via the OTA.
The European Consumer Center recommends that travelers who are still awaiting refunds from 2020 initiate court proceedings against the airline in question. This can also be applied for without a lawyer at the responsible district court. If the carrier is based in another EU country, the European payment order should be applied for. A trusted lawyer can also be commissioned with this task. The filing of the lawsuit means that the deadlines are met and the statute of limitations is suspended. In Germany, an arbitration procedure, for example via the SÖP, can have this effect, but not in all EU countries.