I’ve got a holiday booked this month – should I cancel?
Although the Government is instructing us not to leave home or travel unnecessarily, and so holidays are off the menu, you should not cancel your arrangements unilaterally – otherwise you risk undermining your right to a refund. Instead, wait until your tour operator or airline cancels your holiday or flight. If you are travelling in the next three to four weeks and haven’t heard anything, get in touch to confirm that they are cancelling arrangements.
Will I get my money back?
Current government advice means that tour operators are obliged to cancel your holiday and in such cases they must offer a refund. There is no clear cut-off date – we don’t know when or if the advice will change or end, so there is some discretion for the operators to fall back on. Tui, for example, has cancelled all holidays from England until mid-February and holidays from Scotland and Wales until January 31. EasyJet Holidays is also cancelling departures scheduled before mid February.
The situation with flight bookings is slightly different. Many will certainly be cancelled, though some airlines, including BA and Ryanair, have yet to confirm which. If this is the case, then you are entitled to a refund. If your flight still operates and you booked it with the airline or through an agent without any linked holiday arrangements such as a hotel booking, then you may not be legally entitled to a refund. However, in these cases airlines are generally allowing passengers to claim a voucher or rebook for a later date.
What about skiing holidays?
Ski holidays in January have already been cancelled – or are about to be – by all major operators. The biggest, Crystal, has cancelled all departures until February 12. This leaves a question mark over half term. It will probably be a couple more weeks before a decision is made, but, frankly, things are not looking hopeful. Mid March seems much more likely as the earliest feasible date for a restart for British skiers.
What about spring holidays? Will they be happening? Is it safe to book?
If everything goes well with the vaccination programme, then is seems quite possible that the virus will be reasonably under control in this country by Easter – or at least that deaths and hospitalisations will have dramatically reduced. So – fingers crossed – there is a good chance that we will be free to travel by then. The big question is how many countries will be open to us. Some of the best chances are likely to be countries which are most dependent on UK tourists: Spain, Greece and Turkey, for example. But it is probably a little early to commit to booking for spring just yet. Wait until we know the vaccines are working and then look at the opportunities.
Will travel be back to normal this summer?
I’m banking on it – normal, or at least relatively normal. If not, the world will be in a very bad place. But I think we have good grounds for optimism, and if you want to travel during a peak week from the beginning of July onwards, I won’t see any reason why you shouldn’t book now and make sure you get the holiday you want. Just make sure that you book with a bonded tour operator so that your money is protected if the company goes out of business. And I would recommend going with an Abta (abta.com) or Aito (aito.co.uk) member – the two organisations have a code of conduct and a dispute resolution service if things go wrong.