Update on Finnair’s current refund situation
In March, we decreased our network to 3% of normal levels, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The volume of cancelled flights has been exceptional, both in the history of our company and the aviation industry as a whole.
Our customers have been able to either move their flight or apply for a refund for their unused ticket. Due to the huge volume of cancellations, we’ve had a large backlog in the handling process. This has – understandably – upset some of our customers.
More resources for refund handling
We’ve currently handled refunds worth €270 million. 650,000 customers have been reimbursed for their unused ticket. We’re still going to process about €100 million worth of payments. That means two thirds of refunds have been processed and paid by early August.
We’ve been adding more resources to refund handling throughout the spring and summer. The job requires in-depth system and process expertise, so it takes some time to train new people. Finnair’s commercial team and digital team developed robotic process automation to handle some refunds, but many ticket combinations and payment types still require manual handling.
Finnair’s refund team has also received help from customer service experts and from different parts of the organization, such as sales, Finnair Plus and several external partners.
Large volumes of new refund claims every week
Unlike many other airlines, Finnair has already announced its traffic programme until March 2021. We’ve cancelled the flights outside this programme and all of our customers will have received cancellation messages by the end of June. Due to the changing travel restrictions, more cancellations are expected.
When you receive a cancellation message from us, you can either move your flight to a future date or apply for a refund. We keep getting new refund claims as our customers make them. Currently, we are still getting about four times more refund claims than we would in a normal situation.
Shortening refund queues
Typically, we process refunds in the order that we receive them. Depending on the ticket type and payment forms, applications are directed to different queues for handling, with varying handling times. Refunds that can be handled through automation are processed quicker than those that need to be processed manually.
"We understand that it’s frustrating to have to wait for your refund. We are sorry about the delay and we thank our customers for their understanding and patience”, says Laura, who’s responsible for refund payments at Finnair.
"Besides our customers, I’d like to thank all the other Finnair employees and our partners, who have helped us with the processing of refund claims. Everyone is striving to get rid of the backlog and reimburse our customers for their cancelled flights as quickly as possible.”