Families could wait up to FOUR MONTHS for refund on cancelled holidays

Families could wait up to FOUR MONTHS for a refund on cancelled package tours as travel firms lobby ministers to relax rules and avoid ‘catastrophic’ damage to the industry

  • Millions have had holidays cancelled after Government advised against all travel 
  • Customers with package holidays legally entitled to money back within 14 days 
  • Travel firms are pleading with ministers to relax rules on refunds to save industry

Holidaymakers could be forced to wait four months for refunds on cancelled trips.

Travel firms are pleading with ministers to relax rules on refunds to prevent ‘catastrophic damage’ to their industry.

Currently, customers with package holidays are legally entitled to their money back within 14 days of cancellation. But operators say they now don’t have the cash to meet the demand.

Firms are also facing huge costs to repatriate Britons stranded abroad and delays in getting refunds from airlines and hotels.

Tourists check an information board as flights were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia on Sunday, March 29, 2020

Millions have had holidays cancelled after the Government advised against all global travel until at least April 15.

Many customers are angry that they are being offered vouchers or credit notes instead of the refunds they are legally entitled to. A law change is likely to spark a backlash from those who are still thousands of pounds out of pocket.

The Association of British Travel Agents yesterday urged the Government to change the law on refunds to stop firms going bust.

Millions have had holidays cancelled after the Government advised against all global travel until at least April 15. Pictured: Tourists left stranded after flights cancelled from Bali, Sunday


Can I get a refund for my package holiday?

On March 17, the Government advised against none essential overseas trips until at least April 15. Those with package holidays booked for before that date are entitled to a full refund within 14 days.

What’s a refund credit note?

These can be redeemed against a new booking at any time until July 31, at which point you will be entitled to a cash refund. Abta says these notes should be Atol protected, so you will get your money back even if the firm issuing it goes bust.

Am I covered if I just booked flights?

All flights on EU carriers travelling within the EU are covered. Some airlines are offering refunds, but others are only offering credits. If you booked a flight costing more than £100 using a credit card, then your card issuer should reimburse you under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

What about accommodation?

The owner should offer a refund or the chance to rebook but there’s no guarantee they will. This also applies to UK hotels or self-catering properties with bookings up to April 13. If it has shut and refuses to pay out, contact your card provider.

Will insurance help?

Insurers will want to know you have tried to get a refund from your holiday provider and credit card issuer first. Those with cancellation or travel disruption cover for holidays between March 17 and April 15 can claim on their insurance.

 They demanded the current 14-day window for refunds be extended to four months and that the Government take strong action against airlines who flout the law by withholding repayments.

Chief executive Mark Tanzer said tourists would have to wait even longer for refunds if nothing was done to save firms from bankruptcy.

He added: ‘The global pandemic has put enormous financial strain on tour operators and travel agents, with businesses seeing a collapse in sales while facing immediate repatriation costs and refund demands for cancelled holidays on a scale that is unmanageable in the short term.

‘These businesses are themselves waiting for refunds from hotels and airlines and without this money, they simply do not have the cash to provide refunds to customers within 14 days.’

He pointed out that other European countries have already relaxed rules to protect travel companies and their customers.

Some tour operators are already issuing credit notes for future travel instead of refunds. But customers are worried these will be worthless if the firm collapses. Abta says refund credit should be backed up by the Atol protection scheme.

Trade body Airlines UK said: ‘Airlines are… facing a longer than usual volume of claims to get through and the current restrictions imposed nationally mean they are not able to bring in additional staff to deal with them.’ Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘The Government should confirm how it intends to support the travel industry through the outbreak, however it must ensure that the needs of consumers, many who will be in difficult financial situations, are not an afterthought.’ 

  • Latest coronavirus video news, views and expert advice at mailplus.co.uk/coronavirus 

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