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Low-cost airline's policy on refunds is plane silly

Question: A group of us booked a flight with Flybe to travel to Leeds-Bradford Airport for a funeral of a close friend.

On the runway, just before the flight was to take off, an engine fault developed and we were asked to return to the terminal. We discussed this with Flybe and it was unable to advise a flying time, or whether the flight would depart at all. As this would have meant us missing the funeral, we bought five tickets to Manchester with BMIBaby. But just before that flight took off it was announced that the problems with the Flybe plane had been solved, so we were able to use my original booking. I am trying to recover our costs of £764.85, but neither Flybe nor BMI will repay me. NC

Answer: Both airlines persist with their rejection of your claims for refunds. A spokeswoman for Flybe says: "Any travel schedule, on any form of transport, is subject to possible delay for any number of reasons that include industrial action, weather, traffic and technical issues over which the operator rarely has prior knowledge.

"The safety and security of its passengers and crew is any airline's number one priority and Flybe is no exception.

"Following such delays, estimated departure times are just that - estimated, and Flybe will always ensure that it does everything possible to ensure passengers reach their destination without undue delay, as was the case in this instance resulting in a shorter delay than expected of 74 minutes.

"Whilst Flybe regrets any inconvenience experienced by its passengers under such circumstances, it would not be appropriate for Flybe to refund for tickets purchased with another airline. Were the circumstances reversed, Flybe would offer a refund given the discretional cooling-off period we apply for our customers and would advise [the reader] to pursue this with BMIBaby."

Although our view is that the problems were caused by Flybe and it therefore had the moral responsibility to make the refund, we did as suggested and contacted BMIBaby. It, too, rejected the refund request.

A spokeswoman for BMIBaby says: "We understand the situation the customer faced - another airline cancelled their flight, the customer then booked to fly with us, and in the meantime the other airline reinstated their flight. As per other low-cost airlines, our flights are non-refundable and we operated our flight as scheduled and the customer decided not to use their flight booking with us. So regrettably we are unable to give a refund."

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