The Holiday Guru is always on hand to answer your questions.
This week, he offers advice around refunds with budget airlines, villa companies, cruise firms, and more.
Q. My husband and I booked to fly with easyJet from Belfast to Lanzarote on December 15. Sadly, he spent six days in hospital with Covid and, at 79, is frail. We do not think it would be advisable to travel. Is there any chance of a refund?
Moyra McSherry, via email.
Frustration: Covid is stopping many from visiting Lanzarote’s beaches, such as Papagayo
A. If you are able to provide a doctor’s letter saying your husband is unable to fly, easyJet will provide a refund. Or, if you decide to travel at a later date, the airline has waived its usual online £25 per person fee for changing flights more than 14 days in advance: easyjet.com/en/terms-and-conditions/fees.
Q. We booked flights with Ryanair from Gatwick to Alicante later this month. We cannot go due to the lockdown. Can we get a refund?
Joan Stewart, London SE10.
A. Ryanair has said flights will continue during the lockdown and it will not offer refunds. Instead, passengers can change flights to alternative dates, but need to pay the difference if fares increase. No refund or credit note is offered if fares are lower. But the Civil Aviation Authority regulator believes customers may be entitled to a refund under UK consumer rules overseen by the Competition and Markets Authority – see the ‘Travel restrictions due to lockdown measures’ section of caa.co.uk.
The CMA states that refunds should be provided where a consumer is prevented from receiving a service because of the lockdown. In theory, although you would be setting a precedent, and this is a grey area, you could take the airline to small claims court for a refund.
Ryanair has said flights will continue during the lockdown and it will not offer refunds. Instead, passengers can change flights to alternative dates
Q. We have been making arrangements to spend Christmas in a villa in Vale Do Lobo in Portugal, but the pandemic is making us nervous about travel. We have asked to cancel as the balance is now due, but the villa company, SandyBlue, has only offered a credit note for a future holiday before the end of 2021, not a refund. Is this right? There are three groups in our party so rebooking is tricky.
Marie Parker, via email.
A. SandyBlue has been quite flexible and we understand you have now rearranged to travel in March. Some accommodation providers are saying ‘If you cannot come, we will keep your deposit/ balance’, but this firm has changed its Ts and Cs to allow date swaps.
One reader was set to spend Christmas in Vale Do Lobo in Portugal (pictured) with a group, but the pandemic is making them nervous about travel
Q. We booked a night at a hotel and 14 days’ parking for £97 with Holiday Extras. But when we tried to cancel due to lockdown, we were told we can’t get a refund or a credit note as we did not buy insurance.
Peter Gibson, via email.
A. The CMA says you should be refunded if you cannot receive a service due to lockdown, so insurance is not required. Holiday Extras is giving you a credit voucher as a gesture of goodwill – a policy it will adopt for others during the lockdown ‘in almost all cases’, even on non-flexible bookings, says a spokesperson.
Q. I have waited months for a refund from Iglu Cruise. It says it is awaiting refunds from suppliers, but Tui, which was running our cruise, passed on the money to Iglu months ago. Online forums suggest many other customers are still waiting.
Antony Eydmann, via email.
A. This week we received many emails about Iglu refunds. The firm will now put through your payment. Founder Richard Downs said: ‘We understand customers’ frustration and are working through requests diligently, but clearly we are not satisfying everyone in this stressful time.’
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org — and include your contact details and reference/booking numbers if referring to specific holidays. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to every enquiry.