A local expert from Citizen’s Advice provides timely tips on consumer issues. This Month: what to do if your summer holiday is cancelled?
Q We are hoping to book a holiday abroad this summer but we are worried it might get cancelled and we can’t afford to lose that much money. What can we do to protect ourselves?
A: This summer, many of us will be looking to book that sunny getaway we’ve been dreaming about for the past two years. But things aren’t completely certain so here are some top tips to help you maximize your chances of getting away and, if you can’t, ensure you get refunded:
- Check the cancellation conditions. If you have to cancel your holiday because you’re unwell or self-isolating, you may not be entitled to a refund. If the cancellation is because of a national lockdown, you should get a refund but it may take longer than normal to process.
- Check the local entry requirements. You might need a negative test before you fly and may need to self-isolate on arrival. If the destination country imposes new restrictions after you book but the flight is still going, you may not be entitled to a refund because you no longer want to travel. Keep in mind that the UK vaccination programme is much further advanced than many countries so they might not re-open at the same pace and in the same way as the UK.
- Make sure you understand the entry requirements to the UK when you return. The rules for people who have been vaccinated may be different to the rules for those who have not been vaccinated. Also, things can change quickly and may not be the same when you return as when you booked.
- Pay by credit card if you can manage the repayments. If you put at least the deposit on a credit card, the full amount of the holiday costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 is protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you don’t have a credit card, pay by debit card rather than by cash, cheque or bank transfer. If things go wrong you can ask the bank to do a chargeback — even though this is voluntary on behalf of the bank, it often works.
- If your holiday is cancelled, you may be offered refund credit notes. Some refund credit notes are guaranteed and offer a refund, but they all have time limits. So, make sure the travel agent is protected by The Travel Association (ABTA). Make sure to use the credit notes or claim the refund before the expiry day. You don’t have to accept a refund credit note for cancelled package holidays which must be refunded in full by law within 14 days. And, if your flight is cancelled by the airline, you should be refunded within 7 days.
For more help and support, take a look at our advice on holiday and transport or contact our consumer helpline. You should also check the government website advice on foreign travel and on returning to the UK.