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Related to https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/155243/air-france-cancellation-policy-seems-to-violate-eu261 but this question is explicitly about legality as compared to "how to approach Expedia"

Air France Cancellation Policy says for flights canceled by Air France:

complete the online form below to obtain a travel voucher. This voucher is valid for 1 year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic flights. This voucher will be refundable after one year if it is not used

EU 261/2004 Article 5:

  1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:

(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and

Article 8:

  1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:

(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant,

So it seems that EU261 requires refund within 7 days but Air France is offering only a travel voucher that may be refunded after one year.

Questions:

  1. Does this Air France policy violate EU 261 ?
  2. If yes, what options does a passenger have to get a full refund as required bu EU 261 ?
  • The question on Travel does not say "how to approach Expedia." It mentions Expedia, but asks "what's the best strategy to approach this?" The matter is between you and the airline in any case -- the travel agent acts as the airline's agent; that is, the travel agent concludes the transaction on the airline's behalf. The contract of carriage is with the airline and the legal obligations under 261 are the airline's. – phoog Mar 23 at 15:43
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    @phoog in many cases the agent retains control over the customer and the airline cannot unilaterally act as a result in those cases - although you are correct in that EU261 does only mention the airline being obligated to refund. Another case where EU261 is a bad law. – Moo Mar 23 at 15:59
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Answering my own question after some more research (which I should have done in the first place).

  1. Yes, it's illegal both in the US and in the EU
  2. Many airlines do it anyway because they are desperate for cash and hoping that no government agency will enforce it. A trade group is actually lobbying to change the laws
  3. Airlines will do what they can to make you accept a voucher. Some create an incentive, some make it just extremely difficult to get refund or they will simply deny it. If you accept a voucher, you waive the right for a refund.
  4. Only realistic option is a charge back through the credit card but I haven't found any successful examples yet.

Good overview articles:

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  • At the time you posted this answer, I think it was too early to expect answers. My wife and I were on another continent in mid-March when the air travel system collapsed and national borders closed. Facing a lot of cancellations, we ended up with eight chargeback disputes. In six (including two seeking chargebacks of debits originally posted Sept 2019) provisional credit has been awarded, one charge was refunded by the airline, and one (after some back-and-forth with the credit card issuer) is expressly promised by the airline. I'm cautiously optimistic, and will report back. – DavidSupportsMonica Jul 23 at 16:58
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THIS POST NEED AN UPDATE

The French government created a law in March which allows Air France and other companies not to reimburse their customers. This law is therefore not compatible with the EU261 of European Union that oblige companies to reimbursh their customers in case of cancellation.

The European Union has even put France on notice for these practices the 2nd of July.

The French associations UFC-Que Choisir and CLVC have made a legal appeal against the french law mid july but the French Council of State reject the appeal because it consider that it's not an emergency and it's not bad enough against customers to be examined.

I think France is falling into complete illegality what and someone from this site should try to clarify the situation.

This post need an update.

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  • Do you have any information on whether Air France is currently paying refunds or not ? – Hilmar Jul 22 at 20:46

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