Coronavirus travel cancellations: know your rights
Not many things have been certain over the last 12 months but one thing is for sure, if you’ve had a holiday cancelled, you’re not alone.
Lockdown rules in England currently state that overseas travel is banned until at least May 17, with some countries even refusing entry to British tourists.
If you have a trip booked in the coming weeks or months, you may find yourself in one of two situations.
You could find that your travel provider has cancelled your booking. If this is the case, you are most likely to get a full refund.
However, if you find yourself in a situation that restrictions mean you can’t travel but the trip isn’t cancelled, or you don’t feel comfortable about going, things could be a little more complicated.
Regardless of your situation, here we offer guidance about the current advice and how you can get your money back if you’re unable to travel.
Many travel firms and airlines are continuing to cancel trips amid the uncertainty surrounding travel during the pandemic.
If you’re planning to travel to a country where Brits are banned, it’s likely your trip will be cancelled but you should also be prepared for last-minute cancellations by airlines and firms even if the destination isn’t on the no-travel list.
While it may be a slow process during the pandemic if a firm cancels your flights you are due a refund – typically within seven days.
Cancelled flights are covered by flight delay rules which include all flights leaving the UK or EU as well as flights to the UK or EU on a UK/EU airline.
If your flight is cancelled, the rules state you are entitled to choose either a refund or an alternative flight to your destination.
Over the last 12 months, many people have been offered vouchers by airlines for cancelled flights but you should be aware that you are well within your rights to receive a refund by law in this situation.
This should usually be made within seven days of the cancellation, however, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has highlighted that current circumstances are delaying refunds at the moment.
Package holiday cancellations
If your package holiday is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations.
Again, due to the unprecedented demand at the moment travellers are being advised that this may take longer than 14-days and the Charted Trading Standards Institute is calling on those affected to be as patient as possible.
Hotels, car hire and additional travel bookings
The advice surrounding the cancelled hotel and car hire bookings, as well as additional bookings, aren’t quite as straightforward.
Generally speaking, if the service you have booked hasn’t been provided you should be refunded.
However, it can become more complicated if you have booked through a company out with the UK as local laws may differ.
Cancelling a future booking
It’s not always the case that a travel provider will cancel a booking.
If you’ve booked a holiday in an area that has been affected by travel restrictions, you may choose to cancel your trip yourself.
It may be the case that the company you booked with may provide a refund. You should check their terms and conditions and speak with an advisor to be sure of your rights before making any decision.
If the firm won’t give you a refund, Citizens Advice suggests that it’s usually better to wait and see if they cancel the booking at a later date.
The company will need to refund you if this is the case.
What if the airline or travel firm goes out of business?
The most important thing to do in this instance is to check if your booking will still go ahead.
Check the company’s website or get in touch to find out what is happening with your booking.
If you’ve booked via a travel agent, you should contact the companies your travel is with, such as the hotel or airline.
Should your booking be cancelled entirely you may be able to get a refund. Citizens Advice has guidance about getting your money back here.
Having trouble getting a refund?
If you’re struggling to get a refund for a cancelled trip there are a range of methods you can try to get your money back.
Firstly, you could contact your debt or credit card company to try and get your money back through chargeback.
This isn’t a guarantee, but your provider can try and get the money back from the firm you bought from. This can be up to the value of £100 for debit card purchases.
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay for something between £100 and £30,000 on a credit card, the credit card firm can also be liable if something goes wrong and you could be able to claim.
You could also try to claim through your insurer; however, many are encouraging people to chase the firm for what they’re owed instead.
Alternatively, you could also consider legal action as a last resort but should be aware that this can be time-consuming and come with a cost attached.