With Government warnings that we may not be able to travel abroad this summer, few will take the risk of booking a holiday at the moment, but for many consumers who have had 2020 holidays rebooked to 2021, they may be concerned about what will happen if their holiday this year gets cancelled as well.
For those who have a 2021 summer holiday booking, we’ve looked at what happens if the holiday is cancelled.
If a travel company cancels a holiday booking, the consumer is entitled to a refund, but consumers should be aware that they have to wait for the travel company to make the cancellation. If the consumer cancels the holiday, even if it looks like pandemic restrictions will prevent it going ahead, they may lose their money.
Consumers should receive a refund from cancelled flights within seven days and a refund from cancelled package holidays within 14 days. Saying this, over the last 12 months, many consumers have struggled to get their money back from airlines and travel companies. For many travel companies and airlines, the delay in refunds could be due to a high volume of refunds being issued, along with dealing with staff absences due to illness or having to self-isolate. If, however, the refund takes longer than seems reasonable, consumers should chase the travel company or airline for the refund.
Alternatively, if consumers struggle to get their money back from a cancelled holiday and they have made the booking via a credit card, they can approach their credit card company for a refund of the holiday instead. In order to be successful with this, the consumer must prove that they’ve made a reasonable effort to get their money back from the travel company or airline. Many debit card providers also offer a similar protection, but it is not guaranteed if the holiday has been booked using a debit card.
Although consumers should also get a refund if the hotel cancels a booking, this can be difficult to chase and the consumer may find out that they lose their money. Again, if the booking has been made using a credit card, the credit card provider should refund the money.
When a flight or holiday is cancelled, consumers are typically offered the choice between a refund or a voucher. Generally, consumers should opt for a refund over a voucher. This is because the voucher is normally for the money of the holiday, not the holiday itself, which means that the consumer may have to pay more if the holiday price increases when they go to rebook. In addition to this, the voucher restricts consumers booking through a specific company, whereas they may find a cheaper deal with an alternative company at the time they are looking to rebook.
For those that are still keen to book a 2021 summer holiday, despite the warnings, there are some options that will provide protection. If booking a 2021 summer holiday, consumers should not only protect themselves if the holiday is cancelled, but also consider that due to the financial pressures on the leisure industry, the airline and hotel may go out of business before the summer.
As such, it is generally recommended that those booking a holiday do so as a package holiday instead of booking flights and hotels separately. This makes it easier if the holiday is cancelled for consumers to get a refund and the refund is guaranteed, unlike with a hotel booking.
If the hotel and flight are booked separately, consumers should ensure that a cancellation refund is guaranteed at the time of booking. In addition to this, consumers should book using a credit card, as this will provide them with greater protection of getting their money back if the holiday is cancelled.
Again, consumers should be aware that they will only be entitled to a refund if the holiday is cancelled through the travel company, airline or hotel. If they cancel the holiday themselves, they may not get a refund, but this will depend on the terms and conditions of the booking.
Travel insurance is unlikely to provide protection on holidays that have to be cancelled due to the Government changing travel restrictions, for example if travel corridors change or if new restrictions are introduced. Travel insurance may, however, provide protection if holidaymakers are unable to travel because they have tested positive for Covid-19 before their flight or they fail the airport temperate check – although this will depend on the type of policy that has been taken out and, as such, holidaymakers should make sure that this is included in the insurance.
Travel insurance will also likely cover the medical costs if the holidaymaker falls ill with Covid-19 while on holiday and it might also cover the cost if the holiday has to be extended due to falling ill or having to self-isolate. Again, this will depend on the type of insurance policy the traveller has taken out.
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