‘It’s disgusting’: El Al passengers’ year-long wait for flight refunds

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‘It’s disgusting’: El Al passengers’ year-long wait for flight refunds

Customers have spoken of their frustration after still not receiving refunds from the Israeli flag carrier airline a year into the pandemic

An El Al Israel Airlines logo is seen on an electronic board at a check-in counter at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv August 22, 2011.
An El Al Israel Airlines logo is seen on an electronic board at a check-in counter at Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv August 22, 2011.

El Al passengers have been left waiting more than a year for refunds after their flights were cancelled during the first coronavirus outbreak.

Passengers have told Jewish News of their year-long headache trying to get their cash back from the Israeli flag carrier airline after their flights were cancelled last year.

The airline is offering two options for those that had flights cancelled before 21 September: flight credit worth 125% of the tickets or a cash refund.

Among those affected is Mike Mandelbaum, a charity chief executive who lives near Brighton. He booked tickets for four relatives to fly from Luton to Tel Aviv for Pesach.

He said he was owed $920 for the flights, which had been due to fly on 12 April last year. Three of the refund requests have been ‘approved’ – but he still hasn’t got the money.

“I just wish they would be straight with you,” said Mandelbaum. 

“If they said it was going to be six months for a refund, then it’d be fine. But if they say they’re going to refund you and don’t, that’s not fine.”

Contact with the airline has been difficult, he said, because a UK landline rings out and an automated WhatsApp number gives back messages in Hebrew. “You just go around in circles,” he added.

A similar problem has been encountered by Nick Conway, whose flight to Tel Aviv with his partner last year was also cancelled. 

Conway said they are owed around $1,000, which the airline confirmed was due for a refund in December. 

“Right now they are offering flights to Tel Aviv but have yet to pay me back. It’s disgusting. They have the money. They are simply taking advantage of their customers,” he told Jewish News.

When asked how the airline could improve its customer service, he replied: “They could actually have some customer service, that’s how!”

A third customer who claimed to have been affected, called Mike, said his El Al flight was cancelled last spring. “There is no customer service to call,” he said.

He said he had since filed a complaint with the US Department for Transportation. “I’m very frustrated,” he said.

The airline was emailed for comment by Jewish News, but did not respond. 

However, its website said that because of the “heavy load” of refund requests, the process was being handled gradually.

“In recent months, EL Al Israel Airlines has been facing the biggest crisis that has ever befallen the aviation industry against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic,” said a website statement. 

“The directives and travel limitations of the State of Israel and other countries, along with public health concerns, have almost completely halted our activities.”

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