What to do if your holiday plans are in ruins… again


Holidaymakers are facing another month of chaos under new lockdown laws that will ban most travel from tomorrow.

It comes less than a week after restrictions were lifted on several holiday destinations, including the Maldives.

Bookings to the islands soared by 469 per cent the week after the Government said Britons would no longer have to self-isolate after returning, according to travel group Advantage Travel Partnership.

Off the list: Bookings to the Maldives soared by 469 per cent the week after the Government said Britons would no longer have to self-isolate after returning

But all hopes of winter sun have now been dashed until after the lockdown ends on December 2.

Staycations have been put on hold. And Wales already has a ban on most travel, while in Scotland going abroad for non-essential purposes is strongly discouraged.

Here, Money Mail, talks you through everything you need to know.

Can I get a cash refund?

If your flight or package holiday is cancelled, you are legally entitled to a full cash refund.

If you have booked a package holiday, you should receive this within 14 days. For flights it is seven days. But with firms being inundated with refund requests, you may have to wait longer.

Getting a refund for a non-package hotel booking can be trickier but you should argue that you deserve your money back if the company cannot provide the service.

Not all flights will be cancelled and if your plane takes off - even if you are not on it because of lockdown - you will not be automatically entitled to a cash refund

Not all flights will be cancelled and if your plane takes off – even if you are not on it because of lockdown – you will not be automatically entitled to a cash refund

Will my trip still go ahead?

The Government has not released full details on what trips will be allowed, although travel for work and education should be.

Not all flights will be cancelled, and if your plane takes off – even if you are not on it because of lockdown – you will not be automatically entitled to a cash refund. 

On Monday, Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary, confirmed that if a passenger’s flight was operating they would not be eligible for a refund — but they could move their booking to another date for free.

British Airways says passengers can change their flights for another date in the next 12 months without incurring a booking fee, or take a voucher valid until April 30, 2022. 

Virgin Atlantic customers due to fly before September 2021 can book a new departure date up to December 31, 2022, fee-free.

TUI says all customers flying from England and Wales over lockdown will get an automatic refund because the flights are now cancelled.

Those flying from Scotland can amend their bookings for free up to 21 days before departure. 

However, if you do reschedule a trip with an airline, you may have to pay more if your new booking is more expensive.

Dream trip to the Maldives could now cost £650 more 

Rebecca Stevenson and Tom Molyneux spent £2,056 on British Airways flights to the Maldives

Rebecca Stevenson and Tom Molyneux spent £2,056 on British Airways flights to the Maldives

Rebecca Stevenson and her partner Tom Molyneux spent £2,056 on British Airways flights to the Maldives for an eight-night trip at the end of this month.

The London couple, both 33, had booked the flights less than 24 hours before the lockdown announcement was made.

But while their resort allowed them to reschedule, tickets for the same journey the following week would cost £650 more. 

Rebecca, who works in communications, says they only realised when they tried to rearrange the flights on the airline’s website.

Tom, who works in advertising, says: ‘We’re disappointed, as it just feels like BA is price gouging.’

A BA spokesman says: ‘Like other airlines, our ticket prices can fluctuate based on high levels of demand.’

Should I come home early?

If you are already on holiday, there is no law which requires you to rush home. But you should contact your travel operator or airline because you may need to take an earlier flight if they are running fewer services.

In August, Jet2 cut hundreds of holidays to the Balearic and Canary Islands short and refunded customers for unused nights.

However, if your travel firm insists that you travel back earlier and refuses to refund the difference, you could make a civil legal claim for ‘frustration of contract’.

Could I cancel my holiday?

Wait for your airline or tour operator to cancel your flight, even if you know you won’t be able to travel.

However, if you don’t hear anything and your holiday is a few days away, contact the airline.

If you cancel your trip yourself, you will lose the right to an automatic cash refund and your insurer may not pay out.

What about staycations?

The Competition & Markets Authority says that if a contract cannot be fulfilled because of lockdown laws, it would expect the customer to receive a full refund in most cases. This could apply to staycations in hotels.

However, this does not mean you will be automatically entitled to a refund — and some hotels may instead offer vouchers or the chance to reschedule.

If you are already on holiday, there is no law which requires you to rush home. But you should contact your travel operator or airline because you may need to take an earlier flight

If you are already on holiday, there is no law which requires you to rush home. But you should contact your travel operator or airline because you may need to take an earlier flight

And what if the firm goes bust?

Airline regulator the Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that any refund credit notes (RCNs) for cancelled holidays up until December 31 will be protected under its Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (ATOL). 

This means you will get your money back, even if the travel company or airline goes bust. You will only be able to get an RCN if your holiday or flight was ATOL-protected.

Travel Association ABTA offers similar protection for RCNs for package holidays that do not include flights.

Will insurers pay out?

Many insurers have made changes to their policies that mean they will not pay claims for trips which cannot go ahead owing to lockdown, so check the small print. 

Allianz Assistance will not pay out if holidays are cancelled because of restrictions imposed by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Aviva will pay out if they there were no UK or local restriction guidelines that would have prevented your holiday at the time of booking or when you bought the policy — whichever is later. 

And Nationwide will pay out as long as there were no restrictions on travelling to your destination when you booked.

moneymail@dailymail.co.uk

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