Customers who booked trips before the coronavirus outbreak but no longer feel safe to travel, or don’t want to go, risk losing money as the government has deemed it’s now safe for some overseas trips to go ahead.
While many airlines and tour operators are being flexible and will allow customers to postpone or change their holidays, others – including Jet2holidays and Wizz Air – are sticking to their normal terms and conditions so you’ll have to pay a fee to change your dates or destination.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will remove its advice against all non-essential overseas travel tomorrow (4 July), allowing tour operators to re-start their programmes to the countries it considers safe. See our list of the government’s ‘travel corridors’ – countries that you can visit without having to quarantine on your return.
Tui will start flying again on 11 July and Jet2holidays will follow on 15 July. Some airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have already re-launched services.
But their customers might not want to take the trips they booked months ago, including older people and those with health conditions that make them more at risk if they catch coronavirus.
Also, some will be concerned that the holidays they’d planned won’t be what they were expecting due to new health and safety rules for air travel and at hotels and in resorts.
Find more unbiased advice on travel and coronavirus, award-winning investigations and legal advice on holiday refunds and cancelled flights with Which? Travel
Can I cancel my holiday and get my money back?
Which? isn’t aware of any travel companies or airlines that will refund in full if customers choose to not to travel. If you cancel because you are too nervous, or unwilling to travel, you will be reliant on the goodwill of your travel company, and any flexibility it offers (see below).
However, there is one exception. Under the Package Travel Regulations, customers are entitled to their money back if the ‘main characteristics’ of the holiday have altered.
Tui says that a number of significant changes would entitle customers to a refund. These include the closure of kids’ clubs, a hotel waterpark or main pool or beach, no promised entertainment, or the removal of all-inclusive board.
Jet2holidays hasn’t confirmed if it considers the closure of kids’ clubs or the lack of promised entertainment to be ‘significant’. A spokesman said: ‘We assess on a case-by-case basis.’
Which tour operators will let me change or postpone my holiday?
Jet2holidays is in the minority by sticking to its normal T&Cs. Some companies have waived their change fees allowing customers to rebook at no additional cost, but often only if you make the changes in advance. Here’s what the major companies told us:
Audley Travel will allow free changes to bookings up to 45 days before departure, but only for those made from 1 June to the end of July and trips must depart by 31 March 2022. Bookings for some European destinations, including Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Turkey can be cancelled with a full refund up to seven days prior.
British Airways Holidays’ customers due to travel up to the end of August, or those who booked after 3 March for travel up to 30 April 2021, can re-book (subject to any difference in price) or take a voucher to be used any time up to April 2022.
EasyJet Holidays is waiving its admin fees for changes made up to 21 days before departure. Clients who want to cancel will receive credit, which must be used to re-book within a year.
EasyJet Holidays customers who want to make changes less than three weeks before departure should contact the company. ‘If customers have unforeseen issues, we will look to see how we can best support them,’ said a spokeswoman.
Kuoni is allowing free changes to holidays up to 45 days before departure, subject to paying any difference in the holiday price. Clients who want to cancel instead will receive a credit note, which must be used within two years.
On the Beach is waiving its amendment fees for all July holidays and any hotel bookings, but it warns that airlines and hotels might charge customers to make changes and they’ll have to pay any difference in price.
Tui has waived its amendment fees for customers due to travel in July and August if they booked before 17 March, but they’ll still have to pay any difference in price. Some customers told Which? they were being asked to pay almost double to switch their holidays to next summer.
Riviera Travel customers can transfer any trips due to take place for the rest of this year until any time in 2021, paying any difference in price.
Saga has cancelled all holidays until 1 September and is giving clients due to travel up to the end of October the options to switch to another holiday in 2021, plus they’ll get £50 to £100 off their amended booking.
Trailfinders told us ‘We will do our best to help clients to achieve the best outcome for them, be it amending their travel plans or a refund.’
Which airlines allow free changes?
Wizz Air and Jet2 are included among the airlines that are continuing to charge fees for changes to summer flights. Wizz charges €30 to €40 per person per flight, or €60 to cancel. Jet2 charges £35 per person per flight for a name or date change.
All the other airlines contacted by Which?, including Ryanair, have introduced more flexible T&Cs, at least for the rest of the summer.
BA (including BA Holidays) customers due to travel up to the end of August, or those who booked after 3 March for travel up to 30 April 2021, can re-book or take a voucher to be used any time up to April 2022.
EasyJet has waived its fees for flight changes made up to 14 days before departure.
Ryanair customers who booked flights in July and August on or after 10 June can postpone their trips until the end of the year, but they’ll have to pay any difference in fare and they must travel on the same route.
What if I have a health condition, can I claim on my travel insurance?
If you have been advised not to travel for medical reasons your insurer might help.
A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: ‘Policies taken out after the pandemic was declared [in mid-March] are likely to have Covid-19 exclusions, on the basis that it was a risk known to you when you took the policy out, but if the holiday was booked pre-Covid and the insurance policy taken out pre-Covid then it may cover you for cancellation
‘The golden rule is to check your policy cover.’