Holidays are on hold in the UK while the country is in lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The lockdown is set to last until 13 April, when it will be reviewed. Until then you must stay in your primary residence.
In most cases you have a right to get your money back or rebook your trip if your trip has been cancelled because of social distancing restrictions.
What lockdown means for UK holidays
If you’ve booked travel or accommodation in the UK up to and including 13 April, your trip should be cancelled.
All non-essential travel has been banned by the government until this date. Non-essential travel includes holidays and other leisure trips.
Trains and coaches are still running a reduced service, but businesses that don’t offer essential services have been forced to close. These include hotels, hostels, B&Bs, holiday rentals, campsites and tour operators.
What you’re entitled to if your UK holiday plans are cancelled
If you had booked a package holiday for the next few weeks – that’s where any two parts of the holiday were booked together, such as accommodation, car hire, transport and activities – the law says you are due a refund within 14 days.
Some companies, such as Center Parcs and Haven, have already committed to providing full refunds.
However, many companies are only offering customers credit or the chance to postpone their package. If this is not what you want, insist on your legal right to a refund. We’re lobbying for action to be taken over customers being refused refunds.
If you had just booked accommodation and the hotel or B&B has now cancelled, you will generally get a refund. Many hotel chains, such as Premier Inn and Hilton, have said they will offer full refunds. Airbnb is also offering customers full refunds until 14 April.
But we’ve heard from a number of customers struggling to get refunds. One disappointed holidaymaker, James, told us he had a holiday cottage in Northumberland booked during the lockdown period. But Cottages.com refused to refund his stay, offering him a 12-month deadline to rebook instead.
James said the company ‘just couldn’t tell me what would happen if this all lasts more than a year, and said I might even have to pay more when I rebook. I feel very letdown.’
If you have trouble getting a refund, you can also try contacting your travel insurance company to see if you can make a claim (see below).
What if your transport bookings are cancelled
First, check if your journey is still going ahead if you’re due to depart before 14 April. Lots of regular services have been cancelled.
If travel has been cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown, you should be able to get a refund regardless of whether you’re catching a domestic flight, train, coach or ferry. However, in some cases, you might only be able to rebook at the moment.
If you have pre-booked train tickets, check the train operator’s policy on cancellations. Most operators now have a coronavirus cancellations policy on their websites.
If your service hasn’t been cancelled yet, it’s unlikely you’ll get a refund but you should be able to push forward the dates of your tickets.
- You can keep up to date on our latest coverage over on our coronavirus advice hub.
Are you covered by your travel insurance?
If you have travel insurance for your trip, you might be covered. Check the wording in your policy to see if both UK travel and ‘travel disruption cover’ is included, or give your insurer a call to see if you can claim. You would need to have bought your insurance at the time of the booking, or have an annual policy.
Admiral, Saga, Direct Line and Churchill have said existing annual policy holders could be covered for UK travel affected by lockdown, but it will depend on the terms of your policy.
There might be certain conditions you have to meet before you can claim, such as the trip lasting for a minimum number of nights, or the type of accommodation you’ve booked.
Also, if you have travel insurance included in a packaged bank account, it’s also worth asking if you’re covered for UK travel.
Find out more about what coronavirus means for your travel insurance.
If you’ve got a holiday booked soon after the lockdown
Lockdown measures are currently in place until 13 April. If you’re due to travel between 14 April and 30 April, contact your travel company and ask what their policy is.
Many are being flexible with bookings at the moment and some are allowing travellers to cancel or change existing bookings for free until April 30.
If you can’t change or cancel without penalty, be patient and keep an eye on the situation. If the social distancing period is extended, your plans could be ‘officially’ cancelled and you could get your money back.
If you’ve got a UK holiday booked in May 2020 or later
Don’t cancel your booking just yet. If you do, you’ll probably have to pay cancellation fees and you won’t be able to claim this back on your travel insurance.
Instead, check the cancellation terms of your booking. Some companies are currently waiving cancellation and date change fees.
Failing that, wait it out for now to see if the situation improves. If your trip is cancelled at a later date, you should be entitled to a refund or at the very least, be able to postpone your holiday.
For travel bookings on trains, coaches, flights and other types of transport, check what type of ticket you have. Often they’re non-refundable.
Find out more in our guide to when you can cancel your holiday.