Reader Email: “Ethiopian Airlines Cancellation Fees SCAM!”

A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us an infuriating Ethiopian Airlines flight cancellation case where the airlines tries to charge a fee for a refund for flights that they canceled (the airline).

Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.

Here’s the email from the reader:

I thought this might interest you. I am forwarding to you an entire chain of absurd e-mails from Ethiopian Airlines pertaining to the cancelation of some flights on their end, for which they are asking me to pay cancelation fees in order to receive a rebate!

Here’s the short story prior to my initial below e-mail on August 24th (the rest of the story is in their below responses):

  • On June 7th, 2021, I booked 2 tickets under Reservation Code REMOVED on the Ethiopian Airlines website directly, to fly on September 1st from ATH to NOS (Nosy Be Madagascar), via Cairo and Addis Ababa. Flights Sep-1 ATH-CAI ET1804, Sep-2 CAI-ADD ET453, Sep-2 ADD-NOS ET837, and return with the same routing on September 9th. The tickets were business class, and I paid EUR 3,006.28 each. At the time, flights to Nosy Be were running normally.
  • Sometime in July, the Madagascar government closed the airports to all commercial flights due to COVID, and then prolonged this closure every 15 days.
  • On August 23rd, I received 4 automated e-mails from Ethiopian Airlines stating that the CAI-ADD, ADD-NOS, NOS-ADD and ADD-CAI flights were cancelled. The ATH-CAI flights were operated by Aegean, so the cancellation for that leg was made by them.
  • On August 24th I sent reservation @ an e-mail requesting a full refund, to which, as you will see below, they responded that since the cancellation was due to “government restriction”, a cancellation fee of 129 EUR per person will apply, and if I want my money back I have to accept this. Later they even said that if I don’t accept, after September 1st I’d be liable for even more penalties as a no-show (on a canceled itinerary!!).
  • Since then, I have not accepted this cancellation fee, and we keep going back and forth, which is infuriating.

I hope you find this story interesting, and I wonder how many more Loyalty Lobby fans have experienced such a scam from Ethiopian.

Here’s the most recent response from Ethiopian:

From: [email protected] <[email protected]>
Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2021 8:31 PM
To: REMOVED <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: RE: RE: RE: Cancelled flights / Request for full fare rebate – Reservation Code REMOVED


Thank for your email.

Kindly be informed that the flight is cancelled due to government restriction so the cancellation fee will apply.

Pursuant to your email to cancel your flight booked under reference number , please find the details below:

1. The applicable cancellation fee is 129EUR/per person.

2. The amount to be refunded is 2877.28EUR/per person

3. The refund will be made to the credit card that was used to purchase the ticket.

4. The processed refund amount will be displayed into your account within 15 working days.

If you would like to continue with the refund, kindly confirm by return of this email,

Thank you for choosing Ethiopian.

Kind regards,

Samuel Mulugeta(Mr.)

It is very clear that the reader is due a full refund because Ethiopian Airlines has canceled several flights on their itinerary.

The airline claims that they are allowed to collect a refund fee if the cancellation is due to government action that is utter nonsense.

The reader must:

1. Chargeback the purchase

The reader had paid using a Mastercard (there is a long email convo that he forwarded to us), and need to contact the issuing bank to initiate a chargeback. Doing one can be easy, difficult, or impossible depending on the country.

The airline has not provided the service the reader paid for and thus is eligible for getting money paid back.

2. File complaint with the EC 261/2004 enforcement body

As the reader’s trip begins within EU/EEA, they are also eligible for a full refund per EC 261/2004 legislation.

Download (PDF, 705KB)

They can file a complaint with the EC 261/2004 enforcement body in Greece.


The reader already noted in his communication with Ethiopian Airlines that the EC 261/2004 legislation does apply and the airline is required to refund in full.

Not sure why the airline tries to play games because eventually they are forced to refund regardless? I guess that Ethiopian is so deprived of cash that they are trying to delay legitimate refunds.

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