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Singapore Airlines refusing to refund SA man's flights amid coronavirus outbreak

26 February 2020 4:12 PM

A South African man has slammed airlines that refuse to issue penalty-free refunds in destinations hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Neville Narasimulu had planned a family holiday, with the hope of spending a few nights in Singapore before heading to Bali.

He booked his flights with Singapore Airlines in January, just days before news of the viral outbreak was first confirmed in China.

Narasimulu made the travel booking for 18 June but says he is now forced to pull out of his holiday plans as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.

Singapore currently has 91 confirmed cases of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

Narasimulu says he does not want to risk exposing his family to the virus.

He's appealed to Singapore Airlines to waive the cancellation penalty in light of the pandemic, which has seen Singapore raise the risk alert from yellow to orange.

The airline has refused to issue him a no-penalty refund, despite the fact the island city-state has elevated its risk level.

Narasimulu paid R55 000 for the four tickets and will only get half the amount back if he cancels now.

He argues that he gave the airline enough notice to have tickets resold and says a waiver would be the ethical thing to do.

I made the booking in January via my travel agent flight centre.

Neville Narasimulu

The initial response [from Singapore Airlines] was no. They said they could not grant the waiver.

Neville Narasimulu

The second time I made an appeal, when the number of coronavirus infections had increased from 24 to 81, I was blatanty turned down.

Neville Narasimulu

This is not a personal choice [to cancel], but rather due to circumstances that are prevalent in Singapore currently.

Neville Narasimulu

It was a statement saying that Singapore has not been red-flagged, and in view of that, they cannot.

Neville Narasimulu

Meanwhile, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says it seems flights are only being fully refunded in countries where the coronavirus risk alert is red - the highest risk level.

Knowler shares stories of other travel-related cases affected by the coronavirus, and more.

Listen to the discussion on ConsumerTalk for more:

Every Wednesday, on The Pippa Hudson Show, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.

For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.


26 February 2020 4:12 PM

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