Less than three weeks after holidays in Spain were given the go-ahead, the government is again warning against non-essential travel to Spain, and has reintroduced the requirement for travellers returning from the country to quarantine for 14 days.
With the school summer holidays only just underway, it means tens of thousands of holidaymakers already in Spain will need to quarantine on their return to the UK. Those with package holidays booked to go to Spain, including customers of Tui and Jet2 Holidays, will have their holidays cancelled and will have the right to a refund.
Initially the FCO advice applied to mainland Spain but not the Canary and Balearic Islands but on 27 July the ruling was applied to the whole country.
Airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have said they will continue to fly to Spain. Hotels remain open. If you have booked flights and accommodation separately, rather than as part of package, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a refund. You may be able to rebook, depending on the terms and conditions of the airline and hotel.
Below you’ll find a full Q&A on flight, holiday and hotel bookings.
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Video: Can I still travel to Spain?
What’s happening in Spain?
Barcelona has already introduced a partial, voluntary lockdown, while some smaller towns, such as Totana in Murcia have returned to a phase one government lockdown, which includes limits on travel and gatherings. France is considering closing its border with Spain.
Figures from the World Health Organisation show that new confirmed cases almost doubled from 6 July to 13 July, when there were more than 9,000 across the whole of Spain. There were an additional 1,904 new cases last Friday – the highest figure since late April – and 1,358 more on Monday.
While the vast majority of Spain’s coronavirus cases are on the mainland, centred in and around Barcelona, a British tourist tested positive for the virus in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands this week.
I’m already in Spain. Do I need to return to the UK early?
Possibly. The government has said that holidays don’t need to be cut short. It is already too late to return home ahead of the imposition of the quarantine rules.
However, Jet 2 Holidays is now asking some of its customers to return to the UK early. It says it is too expensive to continue flying empty planes to Spain over the next few weeks, and wants to consolidate departures. If you are a Jet2 Holidays customer, you should wait for it to contact you about your holiday. Under the Package Travel Regulations you will be due a partial refund for the days of holiday you missed.
The FCO warning against non-essential travel to Spain will invalidate the travel insurance of anyone who travels to Spain in future. However, if you travelled to Spain before the warning was announced on 25 July, your insurance will remain valid.
Unfortunately travel insurance policies will not cover you for the 14 days you are required to quarantine on return to the UK.
Will Tui, easyJet Holidays and other package holidays to Spain be cancelled?
Yes. Tui has said it will cancel all package holidays to mainland Spain up until 9 August and the islands until the end of July at least. EasyJet Holidays had not yet restarted its package holidays, and has now said it will cancel all trips until 16 August.
It’s crucial you wait for the holiday company to cancel to claim a refund. Don’t cancel the holiday yourself. You’ll be entitled to choose between rebooking or a cash refund.
If you have holidays booked after the dates above, the best advice is to wait. If the FCO warning remains the same, the tour operators will cancel on a rolling basis.
You will be helping the tour operator by accepting rebooking or a refund credit note, as holiday companies are under significant financial strain, but it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks, such as higher prices in 2021 when you may want to rebook. You have the legal right to a cash refund within 14 days, although some operators continue to delay and deny refund requests.
Online travel agents (OTAs), where you pick a hotel and flight to create a package may not cancel. However, the Package Travel Regulations allow you to claim a refund for any trip to a destination that has an FCO warning against it. Many OTAs have proved difficult to contact in recent months, but it’s essential you get in touch with them to ensure you have a package and confirm your refund rights.
What about Jet2 Holidays to Spain?
After initially suggestion holidays to Spain would go ahead, despite the FCO warning, Jet2 Holidays has cancelled all holidays to Spain until 17 August. It has also suggested that customers due to return from mainland Spain after 17 August may need to return earlier. It has said it will contact customers to discuss options. Jet2 has also cancelled all flights.
Loveholidays and On The Beach won’t refund me. What are my rights?
Love Holidays and On the Beach have both refused to cancel package holidays to Spain. Both insist that package holidays to Spain can still be delivered, and that because airlines are still flying and refusing to issue refunds (see below) they are unable to refund customers in full. Love Holidays and On the Beach have said they will refund the cost of accommodation, if customers wish to cancel, but not flight tickets.
Which? believes customers have the right to cancel and claim a full refund for package holidays to Spain, because of the FCO warning. The Package Travel Regulations say consumers can terminate the package holiday due to the ‘unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination’. It also specifically mentions disease outbreak as one of circumstances. But Love Holidays and On the Beach customers can expect a fight for their money.
What about my Ryanair/Easyjet/British Airways flight to Spain?
All three airlines have said they will continue to fly to Spain, despite the FCO warning and quarantine rules. If your flight isn’t cancelled, you won’t be able to claim a refund.
Easyjet will allow customers that no longer wish to travel to change flights without a fee, although you will have to pay the fare difference, or receive a voucher for the value of your booking. BA allows customers who booked from 3 March to cancel up to the day of departure and receive a voucher for the full cost.
Ryanair has waived its fee for flight changes on all bookings for July and August made since 10 June and for September since 17 July, but for all other bookings it insists standard terms and conditions apply. That means paying a fee to rebook, and the fare difference. Passengers who booked since 10 June will need to change the date of their flights at least seven days before the original date of departure to avoid paying a fee. Flights can only be moved to dates up until the end of December.
Very few travel insurance policies will offer cover you if you decide not to fly.
What about hotel bookings?
Hotels in Spain will remain open, meaning you won’t be able to claim a refund. If you want to cancel, you’ll have to check the T&Cs of your booking. Some online booking websites such as Booking.com and Airbnb, do offer last-minute cancellation on some listings.
You’re unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance if you bought your policy after 10 March when most insurers removed cover for COVID-19-related cancellations.
If the hotel is ordered to close as part of a government enforced lockdown, you’re entitled to a refund for any unused nights.
What happens if Spain announces local/regional lockdowns?
If you’re travelling to an area affected by an official government lockdown, your tour operator will cancel the holiday, in which case you’ll be entitled to a full refund. Some holiday companies have said they will bring clients home early if the lockdown happens mid-holiday, in which case the Package Travel Regulations stipulate that you’d be entitled to a pro-rata refund for any unused days.
You won’t be required to come home early in the case of voluntary lockdowns, like the one in Barcelona. But nor will you be able to claim a refund if you don’t want to travel.