Cancellations of tickets and reservations for holidays seem to be the new normal, along with vouchers and coupons.
For a year now, travel agencies, airlines, hotels and other tourism-related services, have adapted or tried to adapt to the new travel landscape so as not to lose any remaining market share.
However, there are still many people who are struggling, through emails and phone calls, to prove the obvious:
Greece may have “opened” for travellers from Australia, but Australia still does not allow travel for holidays.
Our expatriates can not use the tickets that they still have in hand.
In July 2020, Neos Kosmos shared the case of Arthur Kalamaris, who was one of many Greek-Australians who had to cancel his travels, and asked for a refund or or even vouchers that could, under realistic conditions, be used in the future.
Mr Kalamaris informed us a few days ago that a year later, he has not managed to resolved issues with a specific airline in Greece.
He is not incredibly bothered by the amount of money he is required to pay for the Greek island ticket cancellations, but is more concerned with indignation he feels for being dealt with by that particular airline, especially since other companies were more adaptable and offered more options.
After much effort in 2020, Mr Kalamaris managed to have most of his travel expenses refunded or transferred into vouchers.
However, SkyExpress insisted it could not settle the issue with the tickets that could not be used due to the pandemic.
Having no other choice in order not to have to pay significant cancellation fees, Mr Kalamaris proceeded to change the flight dates to 12 months later.
He did not receive a voucher and instead had to pay an extra amount, as he was told that the tickets for the summer in Greece in 2021 were more expensive.
Obviously due to ongoing border closures, Mr Kalamaris tried once again to ask for the amount he paid to the company but without any luck. SkyExpress insisted on the terms and conditions that are in force for ticket cancellations related to its flights.
While Mr Kalamaris acknowledges that ‘rules are rules’, as the Civil Aviation Authority of Greece pointed out to him, but he cannot accept the lack of goodwill and common sense, especially when as he notes, competing companies in Greece such as Olympic and Aegean have been offering vouchers since last year.
“Stay true to your petty rules when every other service provider, including your competitors, has adapted regulations to provide fair and reasonable alternatives to their customers,” he wrote to SkyExpress, accusing them of “unprofessional and unethical behavior”, in one of the many email exchanges with the responsible department.
Mr Kalamaris disclosed that the total amount requested for ticket cancellations for four people to two destinations, will cost 45 euros, per person, per flight.
Mr Kalamaris feels “trapped” as he is unwilling to change tickets again for 2022, not only because of the extra amount he will have to pay again, but mainly because of the global uncertainty with the pandemic.
His travel insurance would have taken care of any issues back when he made the initial bookings, but as with most of the insurance policies chosen before COVID, this did not cover problems caused by the pandemic.
Neos Kosmos attempted to contact SkyExpress and the Civil Aviation Service in Greece for comment, but we have not received any response or comment.
Mr Kalamaris informed us, the company changed the tickets that he had to use on 13 July, 2020 without any additional charge. It remains unknown whether the same will happen with the tickets dated 30 July, 2021.
*Translated and abridged by Marianna Alepidis