TAP Air Portugal rescheduled my flight — can I get a refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

TAP Air Portugal reschedules — and then cancels — John Schmidt’s flights and he wants a refund. So why is the airline only offering a voucher?

Question

In August 2019 I booked two roundtrip tickets to Lisbon on TAP Air Portugal, using Flight Network, an online travel agency. In March 2020, two months before my scheduled departure, TAP notified me of a significant schedule change. My new outbound flight departed a day later than originally scheduled. My new return flight left two hours earlier.

Considering these changes, I requested a full refund from TAP, as all my travel plans were essentially negated. Almost two weeks later, Flight Network notified me that my flights were canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic and that TAP was offering vouchers. I reminded Flight Network that my refund request was due to changes made by TAP and not the pandemic.

Flight Network again conveyed my request for a full refund. TAP responded to Flight Network with “We will advise our refund department of passenger’s decision” and “This case will be closed.” Not very reassuring. I understand these are trying times. However, I am concerned that my request may have been discarded or worse yet, that my refund from TAP may have been indefinitely postponed. Can you help me get my money back? — John Schmidt, New York

Answer

You’re right, this refund request has nothing to do with the pandemic. TAP Air Portugal changed your flight by an entire day. TAP’s general conditions of carriage (the legal agreement between you and the airline) address your situation. Section 8.2.1 says if the airline cancels your flight, it will give you a full refund of the ticket not flown, in the form of travel credit or refund through the same form of payment you made when you purchased the ticket.

TAP canceled your flight and rescheduled you for the next day. Case closed.

What happened to your refund from TAP?

So what went wrong? It looks like something may have gotten lost in translation between Flight Network and TAP. It’s true that you need to make a refund request through your online agent, but nothing is stopping you from also contacting the TAP directly. Our research team headed by Meera Sundram lists the names, numbers and email addresses of all the TAP Air Portugal executive contacts.  A brief, polite email to one of them might have helped. Or not.

At the time you sought a refund, TAP was trying to process more refund requests than it had ever seen at once. And in that sense, the pandemic had a lot to do with your refund problem. It looks as if your case got thrown in with the rest of them, with someone deciding that a voucher was your only option. Understandable — and unfortunate. (Related: Help! My TAP Air Portugal ticket credit has expired — or has it?)

AirAdvisor is a claims management company. We fight for air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions all over the world. Our mission is to ensure that air passengers are fairly compensated for the inconvenience and frustration caused by delays, cancellations, or overbooking.

I contacted TAP Air Portugal on your behalf. A representative called you and said a “system glitch or human error” had delayed your refund. TAP returned your money, as promised.

*If you’re also waiting for a refund from a European airline, we’ve got you covered: If a European airline owes you a refund, here’s how to get it! 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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