Covid-19: how to get a refund on cancelled holiday bookings

Here’s everything you need to know about getting refunds from airlines and travel operators for flights and holiday bookings cancelled because of lockdown.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Young couple going for holidays with colorful suitcases

Image source: Getty Images

The current level 5 lockdown has pretty much put a halt to everybody’s holiday plans. You won’t be able to go on holiday at least until the middle of February as both local and international travel for leisure as well as overnight stays are banned. The big question now is can you get a refund on cancelled holiday bookings and flights? Let’s find out.

What’s happening with airlines and travel operators?

In the wake of the new lockdown restrictions announced by Boris Johnson, many UK airlines and travel operators have released statements saying that they are reviewing their schedules. Others have cancelled flights and holiday bookings.

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British Airways says that it is ‘reviewing its flight schedule following the announcement of new national lockdown restrictions’. Customers should check the company’s website for the latest travel information.

EasyJet also says that it is ‘reviewing all holiday bookings’ and will be in touch with those affected shortly.

Tui has released a statement saying that it is ‘cancelling all holidays in line with international travel restrictions’.

At Thomas Cook, the company’s CEO has announced that the company won’t be selling any holidays departing before 15 February.

Other companies, including Jet2 and Ryanair, have made similar announcements. So for now, it looks like you’ll need to hold off packing those holiday suitcases until further notice.

Can I get a refund for a cancelled flight or holiday booking?

In a word, yes.

According to Citizens Advice, if the company you booked with cancels your booking because of coronavirus restrictions, contact them because you have the right to a refund. Some might propose an alternative offer, such as rebooking for another time, but you’re still entitled to a refund.

The previous European air passenger rights have been written into UK law after Brexit. This means that refund guidelines for flight cancellations and delays still apply. If your European flight (a flight leaving a UK airport or an EU airport and flights to the UK or EU on a UK or EU airline) is cancelled, you should get your refund within 7 days.

For package holidays, your refund should be paid within 14 days as per the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.

That said, it might take longer to get your refund right now due to the sheer volume of people asking for refunds.

Because of this, the Money Advice Service suggests that some patience is needed with travel companies at the moment. But if you need the money urgently, inform the company of this when you contact them.

The good news is that most of the airlines and travel companies have promised to refund customers or offer them practical alternatives for cancelled bookings. Whether they’ll actually follow through remains to be seen. We can only hope that they keep their word.

What if I’m having trouble getting a refund?

Some companies have been known to be evasive when it comes to issuing refunds. During the pandemic, some people have had problems getting refunds from airlines and travel operators for cancelled flights and holidays.

So, what can you do in such a scenario? There are a few options.

If you paid using a credit card or debit card, you can try to get your money back by contacting your card company and making a chargeback claim or a claim under Section 75. You are well within your rights to do so since the airline or travel operator will have failed to provide you with the services you contracted and paid for.

Whether you’ll actually get the money back will depend on your individual case and any contractual terms. But they’re still options worth trying.

If you have travel insurance, read the terms and conditions of your policy or contact your insurer to see if you can make a claim.

You also have the option of taking the issue to the small claims court. But try to make this your last resort. Going to court might cost you time and money, so weigh up whether the amount you’re chasing is worth it.

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