Coronavirus holiday cancellation refunds
Government guidance on holiday travel and quarantine is changing frequently. This has caused confusion and distress for thousands of British holidaymakers, as seen in France in the last few days.
Anna Curtis answers your questions on coronavirus holiday cancellations and explains when (and how) you can get a refund.
Anna is one of our bright lawyers in our specialist dispute resolution team, and deals with these sort of contract disputes regularly. She also recently had a family holiday to Disneyland cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so she understands the disruption a cancellation can cause.
Government guidance on coronavirus holiday travel
The government's advice on coronavirus holiday travel can be found on the link below. It changes regularly, so we would suggest monitoring this closely if you have a holiday planned or are considering booking.
How do I get a holiday refund for coronavirus cancellation?
This depends on what type of trip you booked. If you booked a package holiday, you are legally entitled to a refund within 14 days of the date of cancellation under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. This includes “fly drive” packages.
If you booked a flight only to either the UK or EU, most flights are covered by the EU flight delay rules which entitle you to a full refund or an alternative flight.
For car hire and hotels, there are no specific rules that cover this and no automatic right to a refund.
Do I have to accept holiday vouchers as compensation for a coronavirus holiday cancellation?
The reality is that very few companies are complying with these timescales,which some might say is not surprising given the unprecedented scale of cancellations that the travel industry are dealing with.
Many companies are pushing customers to accept vouchers rather than refunds and many customers are happy to accept these. This also enables the companies to retain the customer’s money which may help them to keep afloat. However, if your type of booking entitles you for a refund then you are entitled to demand this, but be prepared for a wait.
Are holiday vouchers ATOL protected?
The government announced in July that it will protect refund credit notes issued for ATOL-protected bookings that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
You can read a full article on this on Moneysavingexpert.com here.
What do I do if the holiday company/airline wont give me my money back?
Can't get holiday refund?
If you are having difficulties in getting your refund then you can contact your bank and raise a chargeback claim for debit card payments or a Section 75 claim for credit card payments. Alternatively you may be able to claim on your travel insurance if this was taken out prior to Coronavirus being a known risk.
Holiday refunds and small claims
If you are still encountering difficulties then you may wish to make a court claim to recover your refund. You can fill in a claim form online by following the link below.
We would suggest taking this route for holidays worth up to £5000. For holidays worth more than that, it could be worth speaking with a solicitor, as there will be costs involved in pursuing your refund.
The cost of legal advice for small claims
Any claims worth less than £10,000 will be dealt with in the small claims court where the parties are not able to recover their legal costs regardless of who wins and loses.
Large or expensive holiday refund claims
However, if parties wish to do so they can still have their claim drafted by a solicitor at a one off cost. Claims of more than £10,000 will generally have recoverability of legal costs (or at least a sizeable proportion of legal costs) attached.
If I cancel my holiday am I entitled to a refund?
Not necessarily. If you cancel your holiday, you will be bound by the travel company’s own terms and conditions as to whether you are entitled to a refund (or part refund).
The package travel regulations only apply where the holiday has been cancelled by the provider. If you have travel insurance in place at the time of cancellation then you may be able to make a claim under the insurance subject to the terms.
I have just found out that I need to quarantine on return from my holiday. Can I cancel?
Again you are subject to the terms of your booking. You do not have the automatic right to cancel a holiday which you have to quarantine on return from. Your provider may offer you the opportunity to move your holiday but this may be subject to an amendment fee or an increased price for the new holiday.
My holiday booking is in a friend/family members name as they booked it. What are my rights?
Any action against the company will need to be brought by person whose name the booking is in. Whether the claim is dealt with inside or outside the small claims court will depend on the total value of the booking, not the cost per person.
Legal advice for package holiday refunds
Solicitors for coronavirus package holiday cancellations
Anna is one of our bright lawyers in our specialist dispute resolution team. We offer pragmatic advice in straightforward, plain English.
If you have a package holiday cancellation refund of over £5000 that you having issues with, then we offer a free initial chat to all new clients.