With the sun shining, BBQs smoking and the scent of sun cream in the air, an early hint of summer is doing its best to lift the mood of the nation. But in these tragic times, where Coronavirus continues to bring pain to so many, can we think about our summer holidays?
Will our summer holidays still go ahead? And, more importantly, can you get your money back if they are cancelled?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or FCO, have advised British nationals: ‘against all but essential international travel.’ This guidance remains in place indefinitely. No end date has been issued, and thus all pre-booked summer holidays are now under threat.
But if you have already booked and paid for a package holiday this summer, can you get your money back?
For all those attempting to contact holiday providers, contact your insurer first. Know where you stand. If you have taken out cover, enquire about your rights within the current climate. It is important to understand whether or not you are covered for holiday disruption.
Although tempting, if you cancel your summer holiday now, you may not be able to receive a refund. Travel insurers may class this as ‘disinclination to travel.’ Yet if your travel provider cancels the holiday, you are then entitled to a full refund. Most companies are reviewing holidays two to five weeks prior to their departure, so if your holiday is booked for July, it is unlikely that any decision by the provider has been taken.
If the FCO advice remains unchanged, and is still in place nearer to your departure date, your holiday will be cancelled by the provider, and a full refund will be issued.
TUI, one of the largest providers of package holidays in the country, have stated that no holidays travelling on or before the 14th May, 2020, will go ahead. The company are providing refund credits for the full value of the holiday, and a further booking incentive of 20%. Fortunately, many package holidays are ATOL protected, and therefore have full financial security.
If, however, TUI holidaymakers request a full refund instead, answers are not as clear-cut. Although you are fully entitled to your money back if the operator cancels the booking, the chances of receiving your refund the following day are slim. TUI have stated that call centre waiting times are now ‘considerably longer’ than usual, and thus the wait to speak with an advisor may prove exasperating. Furthermore, the company state that holidaymakers will need to have received their refund credit before further action can be taken. For families relying on their refund to support them through this difficult period, be prepared for delays.
In these unprecedented times, answers and solutions are not offered freely. Advice changes daily. No indication has been given with regard to possible changes to the FCO’s advice. Even if the constraints are lifted, there may be restrictions on travel for those in the ‘at risk’ categories. Once normal service resumes for travel companies, airlines will face backlogs of flights, and may prioritise travel for those who need it the most.
To be safe, only make travel plans once the advice from the FCO has been lifted. Until then, let’s make the most of the sunshine, while it lasts.