Your rights when it comes to holiday bookings

Recent news that there may be a possible vaccine for Covid-19 sent hotel and airline company share prices soaring.

COVID-19 guidance for individuals
25th November 2020

As a holiday gives us all something to look forward to and a chance to change our surroundings after a very difficult year, it is also little wonder that it sent millions of people to their computers to look into booking a trip.

However, as things are moving constantly and at such a considerable pace, there is no guarantee that future travel plans won’t be disrupted. With that in mind, what can you do if you have booked a trip and have seen your plans altered or cancelled all together? What can you expect regarding your holiday, or your bookings, in terms of a refund?

Ashlee Robinson, Associate, DAS Law, and Thomas Pertaia, Legal Adviser, DAS Law explain what you need to know around your cancellation rights…

1. Holiday bookings

If a holiday I have booked is cancelled, will I get a full refund?

If the holiday you booked is cancelled, you should be entitled to a refund. If you booked activities as part of the holiday and both the holiday and the activities are both cancelled, you should also be entitled to a refund. Some firms may also offer a credit note, perhaps with an increased value, so it is worth discussing the options with your travel company. If refused, we would advise you to seek legal advice to discuss your particular circumstances. Whilst obtaining a refund has proven difficult during the pandemic, you can also try to get money back bank, credit card provider or via your travel insurer.

Instead of giving me my money back, I have been offered holiday vouchers or Refund Credit Note. Is it legal for the firm to do so? Can I refuse and demand for a full (cash) refund?

If you booked a holiday and it is cancelled, you may be offered a refund credit note or a voucher. However, you are not obliged to accept it and are entitled to receive a full cash refund should you choose to. The refund should be provided within 14 days but, under current circumstances, it may be reasonable to allow the operator slightly more time for processing the refund. However, if the firm is behaving unreasonable you may wish to refer them to Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) open letter here which essentially advises on consumer right and the powers CMA has to take action against a firm acting unlawfully.

Businesses acting unlawfully during COVID 19 can also be reported to CMA through an online portal.

What happens if I haven’t paid for the holiday in full yet?

If the holiday is likely to be cancelled, you should not be expected to make the full payment, only for you to be refunded shorty after. However, if the holiday is few months away and you have contractual commitments, you may be liable to pay. If so, it is advisable to speak with the firm to negotiate perhaps delaying the payment or seek legal advice on your specific situation. If you do decide to make a payment it would be advisable to pay by credit card to give you little bit more protection which would be provided by s75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

What if the travel or holiday company goes bust before I travel? What are my rights and what should I do about my holiday booking?

If you booked a holiday, your money should be protected and details on making a claim should be laid out in the ATOL Certificate, which you would generally be provided with when you book your holiday. Also, if you paid by credit card and your holiday is more than £100 you may be able to make a claim against the credit card, commonly known as a s75 claim (Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974).

Somewhat similar protection applies if you paid on debit card but, rather than this right being enshrined in law, it’s a voluntary scheme although most large banks have signed up to it. If the operator goes bust, contact your bank, unlike s75 there is no minimum spend on a chargeback claim. Also check if you have insurance in place that could perhaps assist.

I have purchased travel insurance for my summer holiday, which is now cancelled. Can I cancel my travel insurance and obtain a full refund?

In this instance, you should check the policy documentation on cancellation rights. Most insurance policies have a minimum 14 days cooling off period within which it can be cancelled free of charge provided you have not travelled and/or made a claim.

A flight I have booked has been cancelled. Can I get any compensation?

If an EU flight is cancelled due to Covid-19, there would be no right to compensation, as under EU rules Covid-19 would fall under extraordinary circumstances.  However, you would be entitled to a replacement flight or your money back. However, it is important that you establish the reason for the cancellation of your flight as, if it is not due to Covid-19, then you may be entitled to compensation. 

Will my travel insurance still cover me for any financial losses?

This would largely depend on the terms of your insurance policy. It is best to check the terms and conditions of your policy cover.

2. Airbnb bookings

Can I cancel my Airbnb reservation and get a full refund?

Airbnb is operating an “extenuating circumstances policy” which in certain circumstances allows customers to get a refund though the policy rather than the hosts’ own cancelation policy. If you do not qualify under the policy it is advisable to contact the host to discuss a refund or seek legal advice on your particular set of circumstances.

I still haven’t received a refund from a cancellation I made one month ago. How long does it take for me to get my money back?

According to Airbnb, most refunds are processed within ten days. If you still have not received a refund then you may wish to chase this up with Airbnb and seek legal advice.

Need more help?

DAS UK customers have access to templates and guides on dashouseholdlaw.co.uk. Whether you want to challenge an employment decision, apply for flexible working rights, contend a parking ticket or create a Will, DAS Householdlaw can help.

You can access DAS Householdlaw by using the voucher code in your policy provider’s documentation.

Visit DAS Householdlaw

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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