Wizz Air claims its automated refund process is handling 95% of  refund requests within a week – but says refunds for bookings made by online travel agents (OTAs) are “beyond Wizz Air’s influence and control”.

The budget airline launched its automated refund process last May to deal with the unprecedented scale of cancellations amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said it saw a 3,000% year-on-year increase in refund requests in 2020.

Passengers whose flights have been cancelled will automatically be refunded 120% of the original fare in credit with Wizz Air; but they can choose to request a 100% cash refund or rebook.

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Wizz Air said it encourages travellers to book directly or via the airline’s app “so that refunds can be processed as quickly as possible”.

It said: “When bookings are made via online travel booking platforms, Wizz Air is unable to directly contact the passenger about relevant refund options, as the booking owner is not the passenger but the platform via which tickets were purchased.

“As a result, the compensation may be delayed. Passengers who booked tickets via online travel booking platforms have no other option but to rely on the actions of the booking owner.

“Each online travel booking platform has different ways of handling refund requests and these are beyond Wizz Air’s influence and control.”

Zsuzsa Poos, chief customer and marketing officer at Wizz Air, said: “We invested heavily in automating the refund process very early on in the pandemic.

“Unlike other airlines in Europe, this gives a much fairer approach to the passenger in the event that their flight is cancelled, ensuring that those affected can receive their money back as quickly as possible.”