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Travel vouchers as payment for compensations?

Reclamación por cancelación o retraso

In our latest posts, we have been breaking down point by point the compensations that air transport passengers should receive in cases of significant delays or denied boarding.

However, until now, we have not delved into how airlines should make compensation payments, with a common question being: am I obliged to accept a voucher from the same company?

Regulation (EC) 261/2004 already establishes that compensations and refunds should be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank transfer, check, or, with prior agreement signed by the passenger, travel vouchers or other services.

A few days ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on the validity of travel vouchers and what the aforementioned Regulation means by a prior agreement signed by the passenger.

More specifically, in the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union on March 21, 2024, in case C-76/23, Cobult vs. TAP, the High Court assessed the requirements that must be met for an airline to pay compensations in the form of travel vouchers from the same airline.

Broadly, there are two methods of compensation payment: a cash payment (transfer or nominative check) or a payment through a travel voucher, with the only requirement being a prior agreement signed by the passenger.

This prior agreement may be understood as made, according to the Cobult v TAP ruling, by filling out an online form on the website of the said air carrier, through which the passenger chose this form of refund, excluding a refund in the form of a sum of money, provided that the passenger could properly and knowingly choose the refund in the form of a travel voucher instead of a cash refund, and thus could give their free and informed consent, implying that the air carrier had provided, in a fair manner, clear and complete information to the passenger about the different refund modalities available.

Therefore, airlines can indeed pay compensations in the form of travel vouchers, as long as, once all the relevant information is received, the passenger can freely choose between the two options.

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A lawyer specialized in Corporate Legal Advisory, Civil Liability and Insurance, Procedural Law, and Bankruptcy Law. He advises tourism companies, leveraging his experience in the hotel industry to provide strategic and tailored solutions to clients’ needs.
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