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22 November 2021

Package holiday companies with flexible booking policies

Planning a trip abroad now that restrictions have eased? Protect your money by choosing a package holiday and picking a flexible provider
JR
Jo Rhodes
Woman sitting on the floor at home, typing on her laptop

Whether it’s test and trace telling you to self-isolate, the country you are travelling to going into lockdown or new rules and restrictions at the destination making the holiday not worthwhile, there are still lots of reasons why your holiday might not be able to go ahead.

The good news is that if you book a package holiday with a firm that offers a good flexible booking policy you’ll easily be able to get your money back, or rebook for a new date or destination without paying a fee. 

It's crucial to say that not all flexible booking policies are very flexible. Which? has examined hundreds of policies and found some have restrictions or gaps that will leave you out of pocket when you need to change your trip. Some won't offer refunds or rebooking even if your destination requires travellers to quarantine. others don't allow you to rebook if the country goes on the red list, and some won't let you cancel even if test and trace tell you to self-isolate.

Below we have detailed the policies of providers rated most highly by customers in our annual holiday company survey, along with other large firms you may be considering booking a trip with.

First: a note on cancellations

All travellers have a legal right to a refund within 14 days if their package holiday is cancelled by the tour operator, or if their flights are cancelled by the airline. However, your package holiday provider may not cover you if you cancel the trip - say, if the FCDO has advised against travel to your destination and you aren’t comfortable travelling, or because of local lockdowns.

That’s why it’s crucial that you opt for a company which offers flexibility. 



Which? Recommended Provider?
Can I get a refund if the operator cancels my holiday?Can I get a refund if my destination is added to the red list?
Can I get a refund if there is another UK lockdown?

Can I get a refund if the FCDO advices against travel to my destination?
Can I get a refund if I am told to self isolate by NHS test and trace?
Refund if forced to quarantine at destination on arrival?
How many days for a refund?
Audley Travel
YesYes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Rebooking (and refunds for some holidays) but unrecoverable costs may apply
Yes
14
Booking.com*
No-------
British Airways Holidays
Yes
YesYesYesYes
Rebooking or voucher credit
Yes14
easyJet holidays
NoYesYesYesYesRebooking
Yes5
Exodus
Yes
YesYesYesYesRefundYes14
Expedia
NoYesYesYesYesRebooking but unrecoverable costs apply
Yes14
Explore
Yes
YesYesYesYes
RefundYes12

Booking.com* has not set a universal policy for bookings amid coronavirus, and it says individual reservation policies are set by the property you’ve booked. In the table we've provided links to all Which? recommended providers.

Beach and mountains in Crete, Greece

Which holiday companies offer the greatest flexibility?

When you book with a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) you can be sure that your money is protected when booking a holiday amid Covid-19. That's because we only allow holiday companies with a fair level of flexibility built into their booking policies to hold WRP status.

Exodus, Explore and Kuoni all offer refunds if they cancel your trip and for all of the scenarios in the above table, with Explore and Kuoni promising to give refunds within 12 and 10 days respectively (the average is 14 days). Speaking of speedy refunds, WRP Trailfinders will process your refund within one day of it being granted; Saga will do so within 2 days, and Riviera within 9.

As WRPs you can also expect a high level of customer service, meaning someone is there to help if your holiday is disrupted,.


Find out more about your rights under the Package Travel Regulations.


Why package holidays offer better protection

We recommend booking a package to protect yourself against changing travel restrictions. Your holiday is likely to be a package if you book more than one part of your holiday, such as flights and accommodation, from one company with one payment. It is always the tour operator that is responsible for your refund or amendment rather than a travel agent you may book through. If you booked a flight as part of the package you will be issued with an Atol certificate, and this will list the tour operator. For those who didn’t book a flight or can’t find their Atol certificate, ask the agent or website you booked with who is responsible for the holiday. If there is any doubt, check with your agent before booking.