We have heard from hundreds of passengers who often cannot access the money that they are owed through refunds for cancelled trips, leaving them significantly out of pocket. Many people have no guarantee of when they will next be able to travel or whether they will be covered by their travel insurance policy, making re-booking incredibly difficult.
Which? has also raised concerns about the Foreign Office’s (FCO) decision on 5 April to extend the non-essential travel ban indefinitely. While it is right the government regularly updates its advice, an indefinite ban on non-essential travel may cause unnecessary confusion about consumer rights and protections for those with foreign travel booked in the months ahead.
There is immense pressure on the travel industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is vital that the government considers all options to support and help industry navigate this challenging period. The government must urgently work with regulators and the industry to address this unprecedented challenge head on and ensure that passengers who are now unable to travel are not left out of pocket, and that their consumer rights are upheld.
While finding quick solutions should be the immediate focus, it is clear that any government and industry measures introduced in response to the pandemic will have a long-term impact on consumer trust and confidence. Many people are inevitably finding themselves in difficult positions, often through no fault of their own, so it is critical that targeted interventions provide swift and tangible results so that consumer confidence in the travel sector is not permanently damaged.
From being offered an alternative flight home and being clear about how and when to rebook a flight or holiday, to honouring refunds and guaranteeing insurance cover, people need to know that they can trust the travel industry to treat them fairly.