The UK is currently under a stringent lockdown in a bid to protect against the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is currently advising against all non-essential travel to every country in the world for 30 days.
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Though this advice will be reconsidered on April 15, it is likely that won’t be the end of this unprecedented time.
With many Britons still holding onto hope that life will return to normal once the warmer months arrive, summer holiday plans may be a beacon of home in this time.
However, experts from consumer rights specialist Which? has offered some insight as to whether it is wise to continue ahead with planned holidays, or if you should cancel them.
Should I cancel my flights for summer 2020?
Though airlines are responsible for reimbursing passengers their money if the airline cancels their flight, unfortunately, if the traveller cancels the flight of their own accord this may incur a fee.
Therefore Which? is advising passengers not to cancel any summer flights yet. However, Which? does offer an alternative solution if you are hesitant to travel this summer.
According to Which?: “You may be able to amend the date of your journey for free if you paid for a flexi-ticket. Some airlines are also offering vouchers for flights that are yet to be cancelled.”
During the crisis, some airlines such as BA are allowing passengers to change their date of travel right through until the end of the year without charging a “change fee.”
Which? continues: “However, amending your travel dates or accepting credit vouchers is only worth doing if you’re sure you’ll want to take the trip at some point in the next year.”
If the FCO decide to put in place a non-essential travel ban beyond mid-April, flights are likely to be cancelled in which case passengers should receive a full refund.
Should I cancel a package holiday for summer 2020?
Similarly, Which? also recommend holding off on cancelling any package holiday plans for the summer months. The consumer rights organisation says: “If you cancel your booking now, you’ll almost certainly have to pay cancellation fees.
“And you won’t be able to claim this back on your travel insurance, because insurers don’t typically allow you to claim for cancellation because of a ‘disinclination to travel’.
“In other words, you’ll be paying to cancel a holiday that might end up being cancelled by the holiday provider, in which case you’re entitled to a full refund.”
According to Which? the best thing to do is leave any holiday plans in place and wait to see if the FCO advice changes in the coming months. It is possible your holiday may be eligible to be moved to a later date, deeding on the travel provider booked.
Though you should be entitled to a full refund if the holiday company cancels the trip, it is important to note that the European Commission is now encouraging customers to accept vouchers or credit notes for now. This comes as a move to help the travel industry which faces devastation following the pandemic.
Those who are still paying off their holidays are advised to continue with their payment plan.
Which? explain: “If you’re paying for a package holiday in installments, it will probably seem counterintuitive to continue paying off the balance, especially if you’re due to traveling the next two or three months.
“But unless you’ve only paid the deposit — and it’s an amount so small you’re willing to lose it — you should probably continue to pay your holiday installments. Otherwise, you’ll lose what you have paid and forfeit protection under the package holiday protection scheme.”
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Should I cancel hotel accommodation for summer 2020?
Hotel accommodation is slightly different from flights and package holidays, as private bookings are subject to different rules.
“If the hotel is open for business and you don’t show up you will probably have to pay for the room, even if the government advice is not to travel and you have no way of getting there because your flights were cancelled,” says Which?
“It’s worth checking your travel insurance if this happens, though, as you may be covered for any financial loss.
“If you’re not covered, contact the hotel before you were due to stay, as you may be able to postpone your booking to a later date.
“If the hotel you’re due to stay in is closed as a result of government advice in that country, you should be able to get your money back — provided the hotel stays in business.”
The best thing to do is speak directly with the booking provider you arranged your accommodation through.
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Should I cancel my Summer 2020 cruise holiday?
The cruise industry has taken quite a hit amid the coronavirus outbreak, and many may now be hesitant about holding onto hope that their cruise holiday will go ahead. However, most of the major cruise companies are provisionally planning to restart sailing at the end of April or early May. If your holiday is booked beyond those dates, Which say “it’s probably going ahead as things stand.”
The advice continues: “You’re unlikely to get a refund if you’ve already decided that you don’t want to go on your cruise this year, although there’s no harm in checking with the provider.
“However, you may be able to postpone the trip by up to two years.”
Many cruise companies have amended their cancellation policies amid the pandemic, with Cunard and P&O allowing cruisers with trips planned before August 31 to postpone up until 48 hours before departure.
“If you still want to go on your cruise holiday this year, or are holding out for a full refund, then it’s another case of wait and see for now. But make sure you’re clear on your rights if the cruise is cancelled, as they can vary depending on how you booked the cruise,” advises Which?.
“If you’ve booked your cruise as a package, with flights included, you’re entitled to a full refund if the cruise provider cancels. The same is true if you booked multiple elements of the trip through a third party, such as a travel agent, although you would need to cancel the agent for your money back, rather than the cruise line.
“But if you booked elements of your holiday separately then your rights are different.”
When should I rebook my holiday?
Many travellers with cancelled plans have already received credit for future holidays, but with the future so uncertain, it can be hard to know when the right time to rebook is. The experts recommend holding off on any new holiday plans until April 15 at the earliest once the FCO update their advice.
“If you need to commit to new travel dates sooner than that, the later in the year you’re able to book for, the more likely the holiday is to go ahead,” says Which?.
“If you’re in a category that’s thought to be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, it’s likely to be longer before it’s safe for you to travel.”
However, they also provide a warning.
“If you’ve been given travel vouchers instead of a refund, you might want to spend them sooner rather than later, as you may not be able to get your money back if the provider goes bust,” they explain.
Is it worth purchasing travel insurance?
Many travel insurance companies have announced they can no longer sell new policies, or offer protection against Covid-19 related problems, following the World Health Organisation naming it a global pandemic. This may make purchasing a policy seem counterintuitive.
However, Which? say you should always purchase insurance for any travel.
They explain: “While buying insurance now for your summer holiday may not cover you for claims related to coronavirus, it should cover you for a range of other issues.
“You should always take out travel insurance at the same time as booking a holiday. If you buy an annual policy, the start date needs to be the date you booked the holiday (or as soon as possible afterwards) in order to cover you for claims before your holiday starts, such as cancellations.
“But if you take out a single trip policy, you just need to provide the holiday’s start date and duration when taking out the policy, and you’ll be covered from the day you take out the insurance to the day you return home from holiday.”
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