The former chief executive of Thomas Cook Harriet Green has had a refund for flights to Thailand approved after going on a Twitter offensive.
Delays in confirming the refund saw Green take to the micro-blogging site last week to raise her frustration with Qatar Airlines at delays in the process.
Green told Travel Weekly that she chose to use an agent – UK online travel agent Travel Junction, part of the Flight and Holidays group – to book the £9,000 flights because she wanted to support the travel sector.
However, having paid in full for the business trip and organised a certificate of entry and 15-day quarantine hotel stay, Qatar cancelled the January 1 flight in December.
— Harriet Green (@harrietgreen1) January 27, 2021
Green said Travel Junction convinced her to change the booking to a February 4 departure to Phuket, but that flight was cancelled and no alternative was available.
Although she received an immediate refund from the Thai quarantine hotel, Green says she was left battling for the money back for the flight for four weeks.
She tweeted to her 13,500 followers: “Another weekend of finger-pointing and ‘he said’, ‘she said’ between Qatar and Travel Junction – playing a game with customer’s money and their brands. Appalling.”
In a response to a Qatar Airways tweet promoting villa holidays, she wrote: “But beware if there are cancellations for whatever reason, the horror starts #norefunds #travelnightmare.”
Green told Travel Weekly: “I really believe in and want to support the whole travel ecosystem but it seems to me like an airline travel agent game, playing with our money and their brands’ reputations. This is not what the UK travel industry needs at this time.”
In a statement, Qatar Airways defended its record on paying refunds. It said: “Since the start of the pandemic Qatar Airways has refunded more than 600,000 tickets to a value of USD $1.65bn to our customers, including £92m in the UK.
“This year we are offering passengers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021 for travel completed by 31 December 2021, giving customers peace of mind that they can change their plans with ease.
“The airline is also making the option to exchange tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value a permanent feature for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. The process for redeeming a travel voucher is quick and easy – passengers apply online and receive the voucher within 48 hours.”
Addressing the refund demand from Green, the carrier added: “We always try to ensure refunds, either directly or through our agency partners, are handled promptly and correctly.
“In this instance we received the refund request on January 23 and we have fully refunded the agent which issued the ticket.”
Travel Junction confirmed the refund had been approved and the money will be returned to Green by February 15.
Operations manager Scott Smith told Travel Weekly that the refund request was made on January 23 after discussing options with Green.
He said normally this would take four weeks but due to the Covid crisis there are delays and this was communicated to Green.
He added: “In all correspondence exchanged with Ms Green, we have been clear that we are more than happy to refund the full amount she paid.
“But as a small independent travel agent we do not have the luxury of having unlimited funds at our disposal, so are unable to remit, until we receive the same back from the airline.
“We completely understand that Ms Green wants an urgent refund, but so do all other similarly-affected passengers. Alas, the current situation is totally beyond our control.”
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