Consumer rights

What are the Covid reimbursement rights for holidays abroad?

Two female travelers wearing masks

The newly identified Omicron variant of Covid has caused more disruption for international travelers.

Quarantine is being reintroduced for people arriving from certain African countries, flights have been canceled and PCR testing will be mandatory within 48 hours of arriving in the UK from November 30.

Will I be refunded if my vacation is canceled?

If the government announces that it is not advisable to travel to a particular country, airlines and travel agencies are likely to cancel any pre-booked flights or vacations there.

For example, this is already the case for some flights to and from South Africa due to the risks associated with the Omicron variant.

If your flight is canceled, you are entitled to a full refund and you can choose to receive this refund in cash rather than as a voucher.

An airline is expected to refund the money within seven days, although some people have waited longer.

Package travel must be reimbursed in full within 14 days.

What if I decide it is too risky to travel?

It is much less clear. If you cancel, rather than your travel provider, you have no automatic right to a refund.

In this situation, it is worth contacting the airline / vacation provider to see what options you have.

EasyJet, for example, has announced that it will extend its “freedom to change” service – which allows passengers to change flights up to two hours before departure for free – until March 31, 2022.

Some may charge a fee for the transfer to another date or destination, but some may allow it at no cost. You will have to pay the difference if the alternative flight is more expensive.

They can give you a voucher or allow you to cancel and get a refund.

What about my accommodation costs?

Maybe it’s more complicated, according to Rory Boland, travel editor at Which? who said the specific property policy will determine whether refunds will be given.

“If your trip is several weeks or months away, travelers should not do anything at this stage as the situation may change,” he said.

“Those who book travel should do so through holiday providers with good flexible booking policies in case that cannot go ahead. “

People who have booked a package holiday will be reimbursed in full, accommodation included, in the event of cancellation by the operator.

Covid test

Covid test

Can I cancel my vacation if I have to isolate myself?

Operators do not have to reimburse you if you are forced to isolate yourself unexpectedly.

It’s best to study their policies before you book or see if they can help you if you’ve already booked and want to cancel.

Will travel insurance cover me if I contract the Covid?

Travel insurers offer different levels of coverage. Part of it depends on how much you pay for a policy.

The majority, but not all, will pay if you test positive for Covid and need to cancel before traveling.

It is important to note that if the Foreign Office advises against travel to one country – as is currently the case for some in southern Africa, then all travel insurance policies except a handful would be invalid if you decided. always go there.

Why is it so complicated?

The rules are inevitably going to be complex, given that the risk of Covid varies so much between countries.

The government has issued a charter that “clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of consumers when booking travel as long as the Covid-19 measures remain in place.”

He says he expects travel operators to be “flexible” with customers, given the circumstances, and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned package travel companies that they must. respect the reimbursement rules.