As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential overseas for British nationals for 30 days (from 17 March to 16 April), meaning any upcoming family holidays you have booked could be affected.
Depending on when and what type of family holiday you’ve booked and which company you’ve booked it with, you may be entitled to a refund or be given the option to postpone your trip.
What should I do if my package holiday has been cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak?
Currently, under Package Travel Regulations, you’re entitled to a refund from your travel company within 2 weeks.
However because of the unprecedented impact that coronavirus has had on travel, the government is considering introducing new measures that would create a longer period of time to repay refunds, according to UK travel trade association, ABTA.
We’ll update you on the details as soon as any new changes are introduced but remember in the meantime, your family is still entitled to a refund under current guidelines.
What if my flight or accommodation has been cancelled?
Hotels and villas will have their own individual policies so if you haven’t been contacted by them, try to get in touch to see what your options are.
For example villa booking service, Oliver’s Travels, is offering its customers a full refund for bookings made from 2 March 2020 onwards.
It has also said that groups with a booking made before 2 March 2020 can look at changing their dates, but this is at the villa owner’s discretion. If this isn’t an option Oliver’s Travels is then recommending customers contact their travel insurance company, which it’ll provide the relevant paperwork for.
Additonally for UK holiday home bookings made by UK customers, it has guaranteed the option to move their bookings if they made them on or after 18 March 2020.
When it comes to flights, you should be entitled to a full refund if the FCO has advised its no longer safe for you and your family to travel to your destination.
What can I do if I haven’t been refunded for my cancelled flight?
The first step is to lodge an official complaint with your airline through the complaint page on their website.
If you haven’t heard back in 8 weeks, get in touch with the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body that your airline is signed up to. You can find this on the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) website.
Keep in mind that travel companies are going to be busy at the moment, so if you’re struggling to get a refund for your flights or hotel it’s also worth checking with your travel insurance company. Give them a call to see what your policy covers and if it’s still valid after the FCO warning.
Some insurers have changed cover for claims related to coronavirus, so even if your upcoming trip hasn’t been cancelled yet it’s worth getting in touch with them to see what your family is covered for.
What should I do if I have a holiday booked after the 30 day no-travel period (16 April)?
The best thing to do in this situation is to wait for the company you’ve booked with to get in contact with you, says ABTA, as they may offer the option to postpone or a refund.
If there isn’t any government advice against travelling to your destination, your travel company isn’t obliged to give you a refund and you may have to pay cancellation charges, so don’t rush into cancelling at the moment.
Alternatively many airlines have now waived their change fees, allowing you to postpone your trip or change your destination without having to pay extra. Each airline’s policy is slightly different so have a look on their websites (linked below) to find out what your options are.
Airline Rebooking Policies
- Waived flight change fees for destination and/or date of travel, on all new bookings made from Tuesday 3 March to 31 May 2020.
- Customers can also receive a voucher for any existing bookings that depart up to 31 May 2020.
- Temporarily waived all flight change fees
- Waived all flight change fees until end of April 2020
- Waived all flight change fees for rebooking or rerouting travel up to 30 April 2021
- Customers can also keep their tickets open providing they rebook by 30 April 2021 (new flights are subject to availability and potential fare difference)
- Waived change fees for existing bookings on or before 30 June 2020
- Must be made no more than 7 days before your original departure date
You may have chosen to pay for your holiday in instalments, in which case you must keep on paying these unless your holiday is cancelled. Otherwise you risk cancelling the booking without getting any money back.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the FCO travel advice page where you can check the latest guidance for your destination. Remember if the FCO advises against travelling to your destination, you should be entitled to a refund from your airline.