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Aegean Stiffs Valued Customers, No COVID-19 Refunds

Αssociated Press

An aircrafts of Aegean Airlines approaching the runway of the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Athens, on Monday, May 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Whoever picked Greece's Aegean Airlines as the European Union’s best regional carrier – eight years in a row - never had one of their glued sawdust faux Greek lunches or had to sit with their knees under their chin imploring one of the flight attendants to get a human-sized shoehorn to squeeze them in.

The company loves to tout its services and satisfaction for customers, but stiffed them, in violation of European Union laws, by refusing to give refunds for flights canceled because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, vouchers were issued for possible future flights. That means you’d first want to fly with them again after all trust was broken and if you don't, they will keep – steal – your money.

Full-disclosure disclaimer from a disgruntled former infrequent flyer: we'd long before the virus hit bought tickets on Al Italia and Aegean for a May trip to Italy, which didn't happen because that country was decimated tragically by the virus.

So I have an angry stake in this and couldn't get an answer from Aegean on their selfish, misguided policy that affects millions of other travelers because their corporate phone number isn't working – for “technical reasons” - and their number at Athens' international airport puts you on hold and then disconnects you.

If you want to file an inquiry or complaint you're directed to send them a message, which will likely go straight into File 13, the circular file, the wastebasket.

Since we're not going to take this trip, nor ever fly Aegean again, this means they've taken us for $289.42 – and who knows how many others for millions more they'll keep at the same time they want a Greek government state bailout.

I always get travel insurance but there's uncertainty about whether this will be covered so that's up in the air, unlike Aegean, which should be grounded for shamelessness while pretending to care.

This isn't a singular rant since so many other people are similarly being taken and there wasn't even an attempt at a pretense of caring nor recognizing people's losses in the pathetic email messages sent to customers.

CEO Dimitris Gerogiannis wrote that Aegean was looking forward to another good year in 2020 before COVID-19 hit and then tried to weasel out by saying, “We have had to stop flying with you, but we never stopped flying for you, stepping in to be by your side every time we were asked to, no matter how far we had to fly, to bring back to Greece whatever was needed.” Especially your cash.

There wasn't a hint of an apology or explanation why people wouldn't get their money back, only the expected boilerplate about health measures that would be taken if you want to again board Aegean, hereinafter referred to as Air Maybe, Fly By Night or Wing and a Prayer.

No refund but they generously said if you were forced to change flights because of COVID-19 they wouldn't charge you for doing so!

“Please be assured that we shall be constantly monitoring developments and learning step by step how to successfully and carefully progress to the next one. After all, this is what we have been doing for more than 20 years at AEGEAN, always guided by our values and having you, our passengers, as our main focus,” he added. There's more but I'd need one of their best regional airliner barf bags first to get past this.

In 2019, Aegean posted a 10 percent increase in revenues to 1.3 BILLION ($1.43 billion) and said net earnings increased by 16 percent with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of 269.4 million euros ($296.81 million) and cash equivalents of 516.9 million euros ($569.5 million.)

The first quarter of 2020 was obviously the worst the company and all other airlines have had but all it talked about was its own woes while holding out a hand looking for Greek taxpayers to pump in some more cash.

Chairman Eftihis Vasilakis said in a videoconference with investors – not customers, of course – that poor Aegean needs state support, practically begging. We're all in the same boat, just not Aegean's planes where you can't have a knee-jerk reaction.

He said the airline suffered losses of as much as 44 million euros ($48.48 million) in March so let's set up a Go Fund Me drive to help and kick in enough so they can provide something edible and maybe buy knee horns so you can get into your seat.

Trip Advisor is flooded with complaints about Aegean which somehow didn't make it into their press releases or advertisements about how great and caring they are and this one is a gem:

“Aegean Airlines is bound by EU law, regardless of whatever laws Greece passes. Their recent law that states Greek airlines can simply give vouchers and no refund is 100% void … called Aegean Airlines yesterday three times, and used their customer service form once … on the third call, they offered a total of 140 euro back, for tickets that cost over 1100 euro total!

“I understand that these are extraordinary times, but the law is the law. This is yet another example of business getting to do whatever they wish, while normal people get taken advantage of.” Another satisfied Aegean customer.