THOUSANDS of Brits with holidays to Spain risk being left out of pocket for trips that are still going ahead despite new quarantine rules.
It comes after the UK government said it was now advising against all but essential travel to mainland Spain in a last minute change of Foreign Office advice.
Anyone who still goes away will have to quarantine for two weeks when they return to the UK.
The updated Foreign Office advice covers mainland Spain but not the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands – although you’re still required to quarantine when you get back to the UK from all these destinations.
If you’ve got a package holiday to mainland Spain, you should get a refund as most tour operators are expected to cancel trips.
But experts say you may find it harder to get a refund if you have individual flights and hotels booked.
This is because most airlines are still flying to Spain, and hotels in the country remain open for tourists.
You don’t need to quarantine while away in any Spanish destination – only when you get home.
We explain your rights below, including if you can make a claim through your travel insurance.
If your flight is still going ahead, and your hotel remains open, your first step should be to speak to each individual operator.
Unfortunately, you may not be able to claim a refund if your flight or hotel hasn’t been cancelled.
Some companies may let you rearrange your trip for free – although they don’t have to do this, and it depends on when you’re due to travel.
For example, easyJet flights to Spain are still going ahead but the airline is allowing passengers to rearrange their trip free of charge.
You can also choose to accept a holiday voucher for a future booking.
Ryanair has waived its fee for flight changes on all bookings made since the start of this month, but is charging for bookings made before that date.
For hotel bookings, contact your booking provider to check what cancellation policy they have in place.
What about travel insurance?
If you’ve got travel insurance, you may be entitled to make a claim – but this largely depends on when you took out the insurance.
Policies purchased before coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11 may include cover for travel disruption and cancellations.
However, some policies now have clauses that won’t cover holiday cancellations due to coronavirus.
Check your insurance carefully to see what cover you have – if in doubt, speak to your provider.
If you’re already in Spain, your travel insurance is likely to remain in place until you return home – but travelling now, so against FCO advice, will invalidate your policy.
Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk: “For those travelling to mainland Spain, they may be able to claim on their travel insurance for cancellations but it will all be down to the individual policy details.
“Flight and travel operators should also refund for trips that can no longer go ahead.”
Trips to the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands will be trickier to get a refund through your travel insurance.
This is because the FCO advice doesn’t apply to these places, and policies are unlikely to cover you over a change in quarantine rules.
Mr Haqqi continued: “Despite implementing the 14 day quarantine restriction for travellers returning from the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands, the FCO hasn’t put out official advice against travelling there.
“Sadly this means that many insurers will not offer cover if you decide to cancel and some flight and travel operators may charge you a fee to move your travel plans.”
As holiday firms are expected to cancel their trips to Spain, you should be entitled to a refund from your tour operator.
Tui said they will be cancelling package holidays, so check the details of your booking to see if it’s still going ahead.
Jet2 hasn’t issued an update to customers yet, but the tour operator previously said it won’t take travellers to a destination where they need to quarantine upon returning.
It’s crucial you wait for the tour operator to cancel your trip – if you cancel the trip yourself, you won’t be entitled to a refund.
Alternatively, you can also choose to accept a travel voucher.
Consumer magazine Which? notes how Online Travel Agents (OTA), where you pick a hotel and flight to create a package, may not cancel trips.
However, the Package Travel Regulations allows you to claim money back for trips where the FCO is advising against travel.
Of course, this only applies if you booked a trip before the FCO advice changed.
An ABI spokesperson said: “Customers looking to change or cancel their travel plans should speak with the airline provider, tour operator or travel agent in the first instance.
“If you booked your trip or took out your travel insurance after Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, you may not be covered for travel disruption or cancellation.”
I’m struggling to get a refund:
If you’re having trouble getting your money back, you can also try claiming through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To make a claim, you’ll need to contact your credit card provider.
For holidays booked by debit card, or credit card bookings under £100, you may be able to claim a refund via the Chargeback scheme.
To start a chargeback claim, you need to contact your card provider
However, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back as it isn’t written into law.
Martyn James, consumer expert at Resolver, warned holidaymakers should be cautious when booking a future trip.
He told The Sun: “It’s easy to judge people taking a risk and booking holidays but these people are pioneers in many ways, keeping the holiday industry alive until we all decide we want to travel again.
“It’s likely that travel advice will continue to change with little notice and the people are bearing all the risk.”
Find more information in our Spain coronavirus travel guide.
We’ve also got a list of travel insurers that WILL cover you for Covid-19.
Those who don’t self-isolate after returning home from Spain could be slapped with a £100 fine.