finance

The travel firms with the best flexible policies if you are booking this summer


BRITS are being urged to hold-off on booking their summer holidays – but how can you protect your cash if you want to go on a summer jolly?

The Prime Minister announced yesterday that the government would not make any decision until April – and that trips abroad will definitely be no earlier than May 17.

Brits have been advised to hold-off on summer holiday bookings

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Brits have been advised to hold-off on summer holiday bookingsCredit: Alamy

Brits won’t find out until April 12 if they’ll be going on holiday abroad this summer.

For those looking to holiday in England, self-catered holidays will restart from April 12 which includes caravans and holiday lets, as long as it is with your own household only.

Hotels and mixed-group holidays will be able to resume from May 17, but only for two households, or more than two households with the rule of six.

From June 21, three households will be able to go away together even if it is more than the rule of six – as they hope to lift all the rules by then.

Currently anyone who travels abroad to the 33 “high risk” countries has to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

It is unknown whether holiday makers will have to stay in a quarantine hotel after trips booked for later this year.

From March 8, outbound travellers will be legally obliged to provide their reason for travel on the Declaration to Travel form.

More than 17million people have had their first vaccine jab in the UK with plans for the entire country to be fully vaccinated by the end of August.

Airlines had to ground and cancel flights at the start of the coronavirus outbreak in March last year but the government ran travel corridors during the summer that allowed holidays in countries with low rates.

Many families and individuals may have been looking forward to similar this year after several months of lockdowns, social restrictions and home schooling.

What are the refund policies for airlines?

BELOW we round up the refund and rebooking policies of some of the biggest airlines.

British Airways

If your flight has been cancelled, you can choose to get either a cash or voucher refund, or Avios points.

British Airways has also waived its fee to change bookings.

If you want to cancel your flights, you can claim a voucher to the value of your booking, which will be valid until April 30, 2023.

EasyJet

If EasyJet cancels your holiday, you’ll receive a full refund back to your original method of payment.

But if you cancel your trip yourself, EasyJet’s terms and conditions state you won’t get the money back.

The only exception is if you cancel within 24 hours of booking, which means you’ll get a full refund minus the cancellation fee.

If you want to change your booking, you can do so at no extra cost (apart from the fare difference) up to 14 days before departure.

Ryanair

Ryanair offers vouchers equal to the cost of the cancelled flights, and these are valid for 12 months.

If you’d prefer the money back, you don’t have to accept a credit note and can request a cash refund instead on Ryanair’s website.

Sadly, Ryanair says customers can’t get a refund if the flight is operational and isn’t delayed by more than two hours.

Instead, you may want to consider changing your flight to a later date by using Ryanair’s free rebooking policy.

The flight change fee has been dropped for all new bookings made after June 10, 2020 but before March 31, 2021, for travel before October 31.

Just keep in mind you must change your flights at least seven days before the original scheduled departure date to avoid rebooking fees.

If you do, remember you must also pay the fare difference if your new ticket is more expensive.

It can often be cheaper to book a holiday several months in advance and workers will also need to arrange time-off.

Travel companies and airlines are still selling deals and flights abroad for those willing to take the risk that their holiday may not happen.

Consumer law states that airlines must give a full cash refund or voucher if your flight is cancelled.

This also applies to travel package providers.

But some providers are offering extra flexibility to encourage bookings.

Here are the best flexible policies that will let you book a much-needed break and rearrange or cancel if restrictions do remain place.

Tui

Sun seekers can currently get £100 off May and June holidays booked through Tui.

Existing bookings can be changed for free up until 21 days before your departure if you are due to travel before April 30.

Bookings made between November 23 2020 and November 30 2020 or December 22 2020 and February 9 2021 that are due to depart before October 31 this year can also be altered without any extra charges.

Tui won’t charge for any alterations until 28 days before departure if you are due to travel this May or if you book from today and are due to travel between June 1 and October 31.

The risks of booking a summer holiday now

SECURING a summer holiday may give you something fun to look forward to, but there are risks.

You may face a long wait to get any money back if your holiday is cancelled.

Holidaymakers last year reported having to wait months for refunds on cancelled bookings as airlines and travel companies dealt with a large backlog.

You may not find a suitable destination or time to rearrange your holiday for so could end up losing out or face the stress of regularly rebooking.

Quarantine rules are changing both in the UK and abroad on a regular basis.

You could end up booking somewhere and have to quarantine on arrival.

From February 15, anyone arriving in the UK from high risk countries has to self-isolate at one of the 16 government-mandated hotels – costing £1,750 per person.

It is unclear when this will end and if more countries will be added to the list, so it could affect your holiday and add to your costs.

You should check your travel insurance to see if you are covered such as if you need a coronavirus test when abroad.

You will still have to pay extra charges if you move to a more expensive destination but you will be refunded if it is cheaper.

Refunds are guaranteed within 14 days if Tui has to cancel your holiday.

First Choice

Holidaymakers can still book summer holidays with First Choice.

It is currently offering £150 off Turkey breaks departing between May and October this year

First Choice is owned by Tui and bookers are covered by the same “holiday promise.”

Refunds will be given within 14 days if First Choice has to cancel a holiday.

First Choice and Tui holidays automatically include “Covid Cover,” which lets you amend your holiday for free if you contract Covid-19 or are required to isolate.

Changes can also be made if your area is in lockdown during the dates you are due to depart.

This is available on bookings made between December 26 2020 and the end of this month for flights due to leave before the end of October or for existing bookings due to depart before April 30 2021.

Jet2

Jet2 is currently offering £100 off per person on package holidays to places such as Ibiza and Gran Canaria.

The provider says customers will be refunded if it has to cancel their holiday.

If lockdown or self-isolation rules apply, customers can amend admin fee-free to a later date

Jet2 was praised last year for repaying holidaymakers quickly for cancelled bookings.

Expedia

You can book a range of package holiday deals to a range of countries through Expedia.

The cancellation policies will depend on the airline and hotels included though.

Opodo

Online travel agent Opodo is offering 40% off flight and hotel bookings.

It lists hotels with free cancellation and also offers a “flexible dates guarantee” that lets bookers amend their holiday up to 24 hours before their departure.

The rebooked flight must be within 60 days before or after the original flight time and to and from the same destination.

It also has a “cancel for any reason guarantee” that can be purchased at the time of booking.

Customers can get a refund of their booking travel costs, minus a 20% excess fee.

Hays Travel

Holidaymakers can book packages, including flights and hotels to destination such as Portugal or Crete for a low £60 per person deposit with Hays Travel.

Holiday bookings can be amended or cancelled for free on selected holidays up to six weeks before departure.

You can see if this is available on your chosen destination at the time of booking.

How to protect yourself if you do book a summer holiday

BOOKING a summer holiday is risky and there is no guarantee you will get to go, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

  • Check the terms and conditions

Read and make sure you understand the terms and conditions before paying so you are clear about if and when you can get a refund or rearrange a booking.

Buy travel insurance once you have booked and check what you are covered for such as if you can’t travel due to local restrictions or if there is a lockdown at your destination.

You can get extra protections when paying by credit card.

If you’re struggling to get a refund for a cancelled trip, you may also be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

If you booked by debit card, you may be able to claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme.

Chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn’t receive.

Claims apply for purchases made by debit card, or by credit card for purchases under £100, and must be done within 120 days of the transaction.

There is also an option to go through the small claims court if you have been refund or have faced a delay in getting your money back.

On The Beach customers took the holiday company to court last year due to delays in issuing refunds.

The small claims court costs between £25 and £410 for an online claim, depending on how much money you’re trying to recoup.

But if you win, you should be able to claim these costs back.

If you lose, you won’t get these fees back and you could end up paying some of the other side’s costs too.

Hays Travel will also refund your unused holiday money at the same rate you purchased it.

If your holiday is affected by coronavirus, Hays Travel said it will try to offer you alternative arrangements for a later date but if this is not possible, or you do not want to accept the alternative, then you will be entitled to a full refund.

If you have made either a hotel only or flight only booking, then the options will depend on the relevant airline.

Saga Holidays

The over-50s holiday company has already said all customers must have received the coronavirus vaccine at least 14 days before travelling on one of its holidays.

Saga is offering free amendments on bookings made before the end of this month for travel until the end of the year.

Changes can be made until 60 days before departure.

There is also an option to buy flexible cover that lets you cancel a holiday due to a variety of medical conditions, including coronavirus.

Virgin Holidays

Virgin Holidays offers deals to holiday destinations across the world.

If your holiday is due to start before 30 April 2022, you can postpone your holiday to any date travelling up to the 30 April 2023 with no amendment fee.

Virgin Holidays will also let you choose a different destination but there may be fare differences.

Lastminute.com

Bookings website Lastminute.com has a headline on its website stating “holiday dreams will come true.”

You can search for package deals that offer flexible terms.

These will let you rearrange flights with no fees.

You can also book hotels with free cancellation.

Lastminute.com was investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority last year after failing to pay refunds on time and missed the latest deadline

Rad our guide on how to get a holiday refund.

How to get a refund from Ryanair as it extends free rebooking policy.

Are holidays allowed in lockdown? UK & foreign trips banned across England with £200 fine for breaking rules.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock admits he’s booked a holiday despite govt’s new Covid travel measures





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