HOLIDAYMAKERS can get a full refund for package deals to Spain if they can no longer go due to a travel ban, even if flights go-ahead.
Tour operators and travel agents must offer customers their money back if they no longer want to go on their holiday following a u-turn on travel advice from the government.
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Over the weekend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) pulled mainland Spain from its safe travel list after a spike in infections.
Last night it extended the all but essential travel ban to the Balearic and Canary Islands too, including Majorca, Ibiza and Tenerife.
The new regulations have left thousands of British tourists in the lurch about upcoming trips abroad.
Many airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways, have said that flights will continue to Spain as planned, meaning that the firms don’t have to refund customers if they choose not to travel.
But those who booked a package deal through a travel agent or tour operator will be able to get their money back in full, including flights, if their trip is affected by the latest FCO advice.
It comes after the competitions watchdog warned package holiday firms face legal action if trips have been cancelled due to Covid-19.
By the start of July, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has received more than 17,500 complaints about the difficulty in obtaining refunds or information.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a trade body that represents travel firms, says that under the Package Travel Regulations firms must offer customers the option of a full refund in these cases.
A spokesperson told The Sun that in the event of FCO advice changing since the trip was booked, customers must be offered the “correct options by the package organiser”.
They said: “An alternative holiday can be found for the customer, but if this constitutes a significant change to the original booking, e.g. the holiday is in a different country, the customer must have the option of a full refund.
“Equally, if no alternative can be arranged, a full refund is due to the customer.”
This is only for package deals that are affected by FCO guidance – it’s not clear how long the travel ban will last but some tour operators are contacting customers who’s holiday will be impacted.
For example, Love Holidays is contacting customers who are due to go to Spain in the coming weeks, prioritising those who are going away first.
Meanwhile, TUI has cancelled all package deals to Spain up until and including August 9 2020.
It’s important that you don’t cancel your holiday – if you do, then you won’t be able to claim your money back as it’s your choice not to go ahead with the trip.
Plus you may also have to fork out for extra cancellation charges so you should wait until your travel operator contacts you.
If you are worried about an upcoming trip, you should speak to your travel provider as some agents are offering alternative arrangements.
These include changing the dates or destination of your holiday for free or accepting a credit note that can be used to book another trip away at a later date.
If you do opt for your money back, it should usually be transferred to you within 14 days but ABTA has warned that it may take some firms longer than this.
The spokesperson added: “Travel businesses are currently operating in exceptionally difficult circumstances, with higher volumes of enquiries and often with fewer staff, and because of this it may take longer to process refunds, which is understandably frustrating for customers.
“The refund should be processed as soon as the company is able to and you should ask the company for a timeframe for when you should receive the refund.”
If you didn’t book a package deal, you may be able to get a refund through your travel insurance as long as you bought it before the FCO advice was in place.
Alternatively, you may be able to claim the money back through your credit card provider through Section 75.