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An Update on Refunds from Virgin Atlantic

  • 30 July 2020
  • News
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Despite the incredible efforts of our teams, we know we have not lived up to the high standards when it comes to refunds, but we will do everything in our power to earn back your trust
  • The volume of enquiries to Virgin Atlantic remains unprecedented. We are receiving around 10,000 overall enquiries (for rebooking, amends and refunds) every day
  • We’ve boosted the size of the team dedicated to processing refunds five-fold, with over 200 people now directly involved. This has increased our capacity to process a greater number of refunds, more quickly
  • Thanks to the progress made, we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new Virgin Atlantic cash refund
  • At present, we’re refunding an average of 9,000 customer bookings per week across all channels
  • We currently commit to process each refund at the earliest opportunity but certainly within a maximum of 120 days from the point the refund is requested to when the refund is processed


Dear valued partner,

We wanted to update you on our commitment to refunds and continually improving our processes. At Virgin Atlantic, our absolute focus remains on supporting our customers, whether that's to amend, rebook or cancel plans during the Covid-19 crisis. 

We are so grateful for your patience as we work to process outstanding refunds in full. As a direct result of global travel restrictions brought on by the impact of Covid-19, we have had to cancel a vast number of flights and holidays and continue to receive a huge volume of refund requests, as have our partners. Managing this huge volume of requests, alongside operational constraints on our teams and systems, has been challenging, but we are fully committed to paying every single refund in full.

We know that at times during this crisis we’ve failed to give the clarity needed on timelines for payment. This has understandably let many of our partners and customers down. The huge volume of refund requests we have received, combined with the constraints on our teams and systems during the pandemic, has meant that refunds have been taking longer than usual to process, and we sincerely apologise for this. 

Since April, we have been focussed on making improvements wherever possible. We’ve boosted the size of the team dedicated to processing refunds five-fold, with over 200 people now directly involved. This has increased our capacity to process a greater number of refunds, more quickly and we continue to minimise the wait time for existing refund requests.   Thanks to the progress made, we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new Virgin Atlantic cash refund. For customers requesting a refund in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to take a maximum of 60 days, with the turnaround time continuing to steadily reduce as we clear the backlog. Based on our rigorous forecasts we are confident in these reduced timeframes. In the case of refunds for trade partners, the processing time is from the date of submission of the refund application (RA) to the date the refund is shown as authorised.  We appreciate that there may be additional processing time for funds to clear.

We recognise the importance of every single refund to you, as our trade partner, and promise that every single one will be paid in full. We thank all our customers for their patience. 

Despite the incredible efforts of our teams, we know we have not lived up to the high standards we set ourselves, but we will do everything in our power to earn back your trust. We want to thank you again for all your support through some very difficult months. We’re looking forward to continuing and building our partnership with you throughout the summer and beyond.

Fly Safe, fly well.
Your sincerely,
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd

Summary Q&A

How are you prioritising refund payments?
Payments are being prioritised based on how long the customer has been waiting, from the point of their refund request, working in order from March 2020 onwards. The new maximum timeframes from August onwards account for this and we will ensure that the ‘oldest’ refund requests are processed first.

Does this mean I should wait to request a refund on 1 August rather than 31 July?
D
oesn’t this penalise those who have requested in July and given 120-day timeframe?
No, 120 days is provided as a maximum timeframe, but we always try to process at the earliest opportunity. In reality, the average timeframe for July refund requests will be lower than 120 days and will continue to gradually reduce, which is why we’re able to offer a clearer guide of decreased timeframes as we move into August onwards. We will always ensure the ‘oldest’ refund requests are processed first.

Does this mean if I requested a refund in April/May/June I’m still going to wait 120 days?
The reduced timeframes which we’ve confirmed apply to new requests made from August onwards. For existing refund requests made before August, 120 days is the most accurate guide for the maximum processing timeframe, however we are continually improving our processes to bring down this timeframe. 

Doesn’t this penalise people already waiting in the queue?
No, we will always ensure the ‘oldest’ refund requests are processed first but are now able to offer a steady reduction in maximum timeframes going forward.

If you continued rolling cancellations can you honour this commitment?
We’re monitoring external conditions extremely closely and reviewing our flying programme and holiday schedule on a regular basis. Based on our rigorous forecasts we are confident in these reduced timeframes and expect these will be met. 

If you have an existing 120-day commitment, why is the refund taking over 120 days to be processed? 
Up until now we have been committed to processing existing refunds within a maximum of 120 days, from the date the refund is requested, and we inform each customer when this is done by email. The timeframe begins from the date the refund is requested and acknowledged by a customer agent, not the date the flight is cancelled. 

Why does it take up to another 14 days for payment to reach account? 
Once the refund has been processed it will then be returned to the original form(s) of payment. It may be necessary to allow up to 14 days for the money to show on the customer account due to the process in place between Virgin Atlantic and our Merchant Service Providers (i.e. banks). The length of time may also depend on payment method and provider, or if a Bank Holiday falls during the period.

Why does it take another 4 weeks for payment to trade after you’ve processed?
Once the refund has been processed it will then be returned to our trade partner. It may be necessary to allow up to 4 weeks for the money to reach the account, but the process is completed by Virgin Atlantic in the maximum timeframe 

How do I contact Virgin Atlantic as a trade partner? 
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to give updates on individual refunds applications as we are extremely busy helping customers with impacts to immediate travel.  However, if you do have an urgent enquiry and are a managed account, your first point of enquiry should be sales support, who can triage your request.  For unmanaged accounts, please contact your wholesaler or consolidator.  

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