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11 February 2021

The great holiday debate: should we book one and do we get our money back if we can’t go?

11 February 2021

Many people are considering booking a summer holiday despite lockdown restrictions prohibiting leisure travel.

Here we look at nine key questions about what protection consumers have if they pay for a holiday that does not go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.

– Am I allowed to book a holiday?

The UK has banned both domestic and overseas leisure travel, but there is nothing to stop people booking a trip in the hope that restrictions will be lifted by their departure date.

A woman looking at holiday postcards in Praia da Luz, Portugal (PA Archive)

– Will I get my money back if I book a holiday I cannot go on?

This depends on a number of factors, such as the type of trip and the reason for the cancellation.

– What happens if a travel company cancels a holiday?

You should be due a refund, but last year many customers struggled to get their money back.

– What are the rules around package holidays?

People who book a package holiday – usually flights and accommodation – have the strongest protection.

Two sunbathers (PA Archive)

They are entitled to a refund under consumer law if their trip is cancelled or significantly changed.

– How long will I have to wait for a payout?

Legally, refunds for flights and package holidays should be paid within seven days and 14 days respectively.

But many consumers have been forced to wait several months.

– Should I accept a voucher?

Many travel firms struggling with their cash flow have offered vouchers or refund credit notes as an alternative to cash refunds.

Accepting them will help companies survive the pandemic, but consumers are advised to check they are financially protected.

– What happens if I am unable to travel because of lockdown restrictions?

A person walks past a Coronavirus-related advert on a billboard in Falkirk (PA Wire)

The Competition and Markets Authority says you should be refunded.

But many companies view the law differently, with some airlines and accommodation providers only offering vouchers in this instance.

– What if I just decide I do not want to travel?

If you think that might happen you should make a flexible booking.

Several major airlines and travel companies have removed their fees for changing dates up to a certain time before departure.

Many accommodation providers such as Airbnb are also offering refundable bookings.

– What happens if a travel firm goes bust?

People who have booked a package holiday would be entitled to a full refund through the Atol scheme.

Those with other bookings would likely need to try to obtain their money back through their credit or debit card provider.

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