COVID-19—holiday and travel disruption

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Health Assured team

15 April 2020

The current climate has caused uncertainty for those who have holidays booked, as both the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the government continues to advise against all non-essential travel. The UK government has defined essential travel as going to purchase food and medicineto seek medical attention or to care for an elderly or vulnerable person. Travelling to and from work is permitted if working from home cannot be facilitated, but travelling for leisure, such as a day trip or holiday, is not. 

 

Pre-Booked Holidays Abroad  

If you have a holiday booked abroad and you are due to travel on or before the 31st May 2020 it is unlikely that you will be able to travel. Your travel operator should make contact to discuss alternative options, but they will be prioritising customers that are travelling imminently, which is usually within the next week. However, there is no legal definition for the term ‘imminently’ and travel providers may have created their own time frame for contacting customers. Travel operators can offer to rearrange your holiday, issue a credit note or a full refund.  

If your holiday operator is refusing to make appropriate alternative arrangements and are not offering a refund, you will be able to raise a formal complaint with the provider. This complaint should be made in writing via email or letter and should include details of your concern alongside your preferred outcomes and resolutions.   

If you are not able to reach a resolution with your travel provider you may be able to escalate the complaint if the provider is ABTA or ATOL protectedABTA and ATOL are travel associations that provide protection for consumers who have booked holidays with their members and you may be able to seek a full refund from these organisations directly. 

 

Stranded in another country  

If you are already abroad and are currently stranded, your airline provider should be contacting you and attempting to locate an alternative flight for you to return home. The airline may offer a refund and you may need to make your own way home. The FCO are currently working with airlines and trying to arrange flights for people to be able to return to the UK as soon as possible. In the meantime, the FCO is advising that it is vital that you remain in a safe and isolated environment where possible.  

 

Holiday booked in the UK 

If you have a holiday booked within the UK and you are due to travel, you will need to liaise with the provider regarding your contract. Although many are offering refunds, this is a private contractual agreement and whether you can rearrange the holiday or request a full refund will be determined by the terms and conditions of the agreement.  

 

Alternative ways to claim your money back 

Travel Insurance: Your travel insurance provider may be able to offer you a refund dependent upon their terms and conditions. Many policies will provide cover where the government have advised against all but essential travel. However, some providers may state in their conditions that they would not cover pandemics, epidemics or natural disasters which may be referred to as an ‘act of god’. This information will be contained in your policy details but it may be helpful to speak to your travel insurance provider directly. Explore this option without delay as some policies include time limits for notifying them of an intended claim.  

 

Credit Card Claim: If you paid for your holiday using your credit card you may also be able to claim this back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which states that, if there has been a breach of contract, the card holder shall have a like claim against the creditor, who, with the supplier, shall accordingly be jointly and severally liable to the debtor’. This means that the credit card provider shares liability of goods and services with the provider and you may therefore be able to claim from the credit card company. In order to make a claim, partial or full payment needs to have been made on the credit card and the holiday must have cost more than £100, but less than £30,000. 

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