THOUSANDS of Brits have been left in the lurch over refunds for holidays to Spain if they can’t go any more due to the latest government travel advice.
UK holidaymakers have been advised against all but essential travel to mainland Spain thanks to a spike in infections.
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The Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) hasn’t extended the travel ban to include holidays to the Balearic and Canary Islands but families will have to quarantine for two weeks when they return.
Brits currently abroad in mainland Spain will also have to self-isolate for a fortnight when they come back.
Those who don’t follow the rules could be slapped with a £1,000 fine.
Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary urged employers not to punish their employees for following the law and staying home to stop the spread of the virus.
But staff won’t be able to claim sick pay for days taken off work to quarantine after a trip abroad, leaving many who’ve booked holidays to rethink their plans.
What does it mean for your refund rights?
Consumer group Which? says that it’s crucial you wait for the holiday company to cancel your trip if you want a chance of getting your money back – if you cancel it then you waive your refund rights.
We’ve asked leading travel firms what their policy is if you’ve booked a trip to a country the UK has a travel corridor with but FCO rules suddenly change.
British Airways says flights to mainland Spain will be going ahead as normal so it won’t be giving money back if customers can no longer travel.
Instead of a refund, the airline is offering customers a voucher worth the value of the booking which can be used to rebook their holiday at a later date.
You will only be able to get a voucher if you booked your flights before March 3, 2020 for travel up to September 30, 2020, or you booked between March 3, 2020 and August 31, 2020 for journeys due to be completed by April 30, 2021.
You will need to apply for a voucher via the Manage My Booking section on the website.
This flexible booking policy can be applied to trips to other destinations, not just Spain.
This means those who are worried about upcoming trips to other UK travel corridor destinations can rearrange their holiday for a later date or to a new destination.
If it’s a more expensive holiday, passengers will have to pay the difference.
EasyJet says flights to Spain will continue to go ahead as planned and as a result, is not obliged to offer customers a refund if they can no longer go on holiday.
Instead, customers can choose to transfer their flights to a later date for free or they can accept a voucher for the value of the booking.
This can be used to book a new holiday to another destination.
A spokesperson added: “Should any flights be cancelled for later in August customers will be notified and informed of their options which includes transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or applying for a refund via a webform on our dedicated Covid Help Hub at easyJet.com.”
Passengers who are worried about any upcoming trips to other UK travel corridor destinations can also change their flights for free up to 14 days ahead of departure via the Manage Booking section on the website.
Normally, it would cost £32 to change your flight but now all you have to pay is the difference.
EasyJet Holidays has cancelled all package holidays to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands from August 1, when operations were due to restart.
Customers who have been affected by the cancellations will be offered a full refund.
Matt Callaghan, customer director at easyJet holidays added: “We also have a very flexible approach for customers with existing bookings who are feeling unsure about travelling and will support with free changes to their booking up to 28 days before departure and wherever we can in other circumstances.”
You can make changes to your upcoming trip through the Manage Bookings section on your easyJet Holidays account either on the website or via the app.
Jet2 has made a u-turn and cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain from tomorrow until August 17, despite yesterday saying it wouldn’t.
The holiday provider will be offering customers the option to rebook with no admin fee, refund credit notes that can be used to book a holiday in the future or their money back in full.
It will review holidays booked for after August 17 once it has received further information from the government.
Package holidays to the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands will be going ahead as planned.
A spokesperson told The Sun: “This is a fast-moving situation, which we are continuing to monitor very closely.
“We would like to thank our customers for their understanding and patience.”
Jet2 said that it will be contacting affected customers and asked them to not to call the operator so as not overwhelm the systems.
Customers who want to change their trip because they’re worried it will be affected by the coronavirus will have to pay the normal fees.
There’s a £35 administration fee to change the destination or dates of your holiday and you will also be expected to pay the difference in fare.
If you cancel your flight or holiday, and the FCO advice says that it is safe to travel, you will be charged the full amount.
Lastminute.com hasn’t announced its policy on what it is doing for customers with upcoming trips to Spain but more information is expected later today.
Those who are worried about trips booked to other UK travel bridge destinations and want to change them will be subject to the normal terms and conditions, unless the FCO advice changes.
Cancellation fees depend on the individual terms and conditions of your booking so you’ll need to check in the small print to find out how much it will cost you.
Charges associated with changing your holiday are set by the airlines and accommodation providers so you’ll need to check with them to find out the fees.
Love Holidays is contacting customers with trips to mainland Spain that have been affected by the new FCO travel rules.
It is texting or emailing customers who are due to travel before August 17, 2020 and is prioritising those who are going away first.
You’ll need to let it know if you wish to continue to go ahead with the holiday – if not it says it will “do our best to cancel your reservations with our suppliers”.
A spokesperson added: “Cancellations and potential refunds will be governed by the terms and conditions of individual bookings and passenger travel insurance policies which may be in place.”
In the terms and conditions outlined on the website, the travel agent says customers with trips cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak will be offered a credit note that can be used to rebook their holiday by a certain date.
Alternatively, it can be used to get a cash refund for the value of the trip.
But it also adds that you will only be refunded for your flights if the airline repays the travel firm for your booking.
Airlines only have to pay out if flights are cancelled, and as many are continuing to go-ahead as planned, Love Holidays is unlikely to refund you the costs.
The travel agent also says customers who don’t want to travel any more may be able to rearrange their flights but this will need to be done directly with the airline.
You should let Love Holidays know via the Manage My Booking section on the website.
Holidays to the Canary Island and Balearic Islands will be going ahead as planned – you won’t be able to get a full refund if you cancel your trip.
Holidaymakers who no longer feel safe travelling abroad to a country that isn’t on the FCO travel ban list will be charged the normal fees for cancelling or changing their trip.
You will be charged 100 per cent of the value of the flights and transfer fees if you cancel, plus £75 per package holiday booking or £25 for hotel-only bookings.
Charges for cancellation of your accommodation depends on whether you have booked a refundable or non-refundable deal.
You should check the individual terms and conditions of your agreement to see whether you are entitled to a refund or not.
Tourists with a trip to mainland Spain booked with On the Beach due to leave before or on August 15 will be able to get a refund for the hotel and transfer costs.
Flight refunds depend on the airline policy – if it hasn’t cancelled the journey then you are unlikely to get your money back.
Customers who have to cancel holidays to the Balearic or Grand Canaria Islands because of the new quarantine rules will be subject to the normal cancellation fees outlined in their individual booking agreement.
As a gesture of goodwill, the travel agent has said that it will also refund the cost of the hotel and transfer.
On the Beach says that it is currently “unable to deal with date change requests at the current time”.
Ryanair is continuing to fly to mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands as planned so will not be offering customers a refund if they can’t travel any more.
But the airline has recently issued a new policy that allows travellers to change their flights for free if they’re don’t want to fly due to the current situation.
This applies to flights to other UK air corridor destinations too.
Customers who have booked flights since June 10 to travel in July and August will be able to move their flights for free to travel until December 21, 2020.
You’ll only be able to change the dates of the trips though – all other changes including passenger names and destination will be subject to a fee.
It costs £115 to change a name via the Manage Bookings section on Ryanair’s website, or £160 to change through a travel agent.
Flight change charges depend on the destination but are typically between £35 and £95 per person.
TUI has cancelled all holidays to mainland Spain up until and including August 9, 2020.
Holidays to the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands will be able to travel as planned from Monday July 27.
Customers can get a full refund if they now need to cancel their holiday to mainland Spain, or they can rebook the holiday free of charge.
Passengers with holidays from August 10 will be updated on Friday July 31 on whether their trip will go ahead.
All tourists currently on holiday in Spain will be able to return to the UK as normal.
Customers who are worried about upcoming trips to other UK travel corridor destinations will be able to rearrange their trip for free.
As long as the holiday was booked between July 23 and September 30, 2020 to travel between August 20, 2020 and April 30, 2021 then you can amend the date, duration, accommodation or destination without being charged a fee.
But it must be no less than 28 days before your departure date, otherwise normal terms and conditions apply – the closer to your departure date, the more expensive it will be.
TUI charges 90 per cent of the holiday if you cancel within 28 and 15 days of the day you’re due to fly, or 100 per cent if you cancel within two weeks of travel.
A TUI spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is always our highest priority and we welcome travel advice that protects those that holiday with us.
“However, the UK government must work closely with the travel industry as this level of uncertainty and confusion is damaging for business and disappointing for those looking forward to a well-deserved break.”