With a track record of claiming over £70million in compensation from airlines and holiday companies, we are stepping forward to help consumers who have been unable to receive refunds for their cancelled holidays or flights.
Below, we explain what your legal rights are for both flight cancellations, and packaged holidays cancelled due to Coronavirus. We’ll also explain your right to refunds for cruises that have been cancelled.
We’ve heard from hundreds of unhappy consumers. Although it may not seem like it, the law is on your side, and depending on your circumstances, there may be multiple ways for you to claim your refund.
Although it may not seem like it, the law is on your side, and depending on your circumstances, there may be multiple ways for you to claim your refund.
These laws mean you are not legally bound to accept vouchers under any circumstances unless you wish to.
We hope the information we provide below will help you resolve your issues directly with the holiday companies.
How To Claim Refunds For Holidays And Flights Cancelled Because Of Coronavirus
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives like we’ve never experienced before. Equally, the travel industry has been brought to a standstill, threatening its existence.
While we acknowledged the financial pressures that holiday companies and airlines are under, equally, many consumers have financial concerns of their own that consumer rights laws are in place to protect against.
Depending on your circumstances, various laws apply to claim a refund for a cancelled flight or cancelled holiday.
These include The Consumer Rights Act, guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority, but also contract law – the agreement between yourself and the holiday company or airline that became binding when you made your reservation.
Be warned, none of these laws will protect you if you choose to cancel your flight or holiday.
Additionally, EU Regulation 261/2004 is applicable for cancellations affecting flights departing the EU (Including the UK) or arriving into the EU, with an EU airline.
Be warned, none of these laws will protect you if you choose to cancel your flight or holiday. Please do not cancel the booking yourself; it will severely weaken the rights you have to receive a refund.
These legal rights are applicable for all circumstances relating to flight and holiday cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We believe it covers all consumers who may have –
- Flights or holidays with a departure date that has now passed.
- Flights or holidays with a departure date in the next three months.
- Airline Passengers with tickets for a route an airline continues to fly even if the FCO guidance warns against travel to that country.
- Airline Passengers who booked using air miles.
- Holidaymakers who have booked a cruise.
Refunds For Flight Cancellations, EU Regulation 261 And Coronavirus.
Irrespective of the circumstance, EU laws that have been in place since 2005 for claiming compensation for flight delays and cancellations are valid in claims relating to cancelled flights because of Coronavirus.
It is specifically EU Regulation 261 laws relating to cancelled flights that are relevant for cancellations relating to Coronavirus. Under this law, you are legally entitled to a refund within seven days equal to the price you paid for your ticket.
This law applies to flights that would have departed from the EU or arrive in the EU on an EU based airline.
The United Kingdom is still part of the EU until the end of 2020, so the above criteria apply at a minimum to all EU and UK based airlines.
Don’t worry if your ticket is with a non-EU airline. You can still claim under EU 261 if your origin was in the EU.
Equally, don’t worry if your origin was outside of the UK as there are further laws that are in place to protect you.
How Contract Law And Coronavirus Affect Your Refund Options
When you purchase an airline ticket or book a holiday with a travel firm, you enter into a contract. This contract is to protect both sides. In many cases, there will be clauses within this contract that will entitle you to a full refund.
Each travel company’s contract with you will be specifically worded and unique to that organisation. However, our experienced legal team can pinpoint these legally binding clauses for each, and claim for the refund on your behalf.
However, even if the travel company’s terms and conditions don’t expressly stipulate that you are entitled to a refund, you may still be able to claim a refund under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or under general contract law.
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Claiming Refunds For Upcoming Holidays Or Flights Because of Cancellations Caused By Coronavirus
Many travel firms are using The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against travel to all overseas destinations as a point of reference when choosing to issue refunds. Unfortunately, the current FCO guidance is against all travel “indefinitely” rather than up to a specific date, which can leave the advice open to interpretation.
As such, some travel companies may delay issuing refunds as they may consider that “indefinitely” could change at any time. However, as it seems unrealistic that this advice will change in the near future, the majority of travel companies are issuing refunds 21 days in advance of the departure date.
But even in instances when travel companies are refusing to issue a refund for your flight or holiday, you are still entitled to a refund according to the Competition and Markets Authority.
While the CMA has acknowledged the pressure that holiday companies and airlines are under, equally, they have emphasised that consumer rights should not be ignored.
In instances when travel companies are refusing to issue a refund for your flight or holiday, you are still entitled to a refund according to the Competition and Markets Authority.
As such, the CMA has a Covid-19 Taskforce in place to identify businesses that are frustrating or not respecting cancellation rights of consumers.
The CMA states clearly on the Government website, “where a contract is not performed as agreed, the CMA considers that consumer protection law will generally allow consumers to obtain a refund.
In particular, for most consumer contracts, the CMA would expect a consumer to be offered a full refund where:
A business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or services;
No service is provided by a business, for example, because this is prevented by Government public health measures;
A consumer cancels or is prevented from receiving any services because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services.”
The guidance on this is clear; you are legally entitled to a refund irrespective of the current FCO guidance and within reason, the dates of your flight or holiday.
When Should I Cancel My Flight Or Holiday?1
You are only covered by legal regulations if the operating air carrier or tour operator cancels your flight or holiday.
If a flight, package holiday or cruise was cancelled by the travellers and not the airline or tour operator, this would be classed as a cancellation and therefore potentially subject to cancellation charges.
Passengers who have had their flight cancelled are entitled to a full refund or replacement flight and travellers who have had their holiday packages cancelled would be entitled to a full refund of the package. The right to a refund under the Package Travel Regulations (2018) is not subject to any restriction on reasons for the cancellation.
Unfortunately, cancellation charges can often be a high percentage, if not all of the cost of the holiday or flight leaving travellers with no reimbursement.
However, the good news is that the Package Travel Regulation (2018) does state that travellers are able to terminate the package before the start of the holiday, without paying any termination fees in certain extraordinary circumstances.
What Should I Do If I Want To Rebook Or Cancel If I Have To Self-isolate?1
It has been reported that less than half of travel firms will allow holidaymakers to rebook if they have to self-isolate.
You are at risk of losing your money in this situation, since there is no law which requires the airline to provide a refund if the flight goes ahead, but the passenger was unable to travel.
The only possible recourse is if:
1) the passenger has insurance which covers those particular circumstances; or
2) the particular airline has amended their terms to allow passengers to receive a refund or rebook, in those circumstances.
Fortunately there are many airlines taking the pragmatic approach of making their terms and conditions more generous in these circumstances so that passengers can book their flights safe in the knowledge that they won’t lose out if they themselves cannot travel due to quarantine restrictions.”
When Should I Accept Vouchers?1
While we believe you are legally entitled to a full financial refund, you may wish to accept a voucher if this fits with your personal circumstances.
We also think it's up to the holiday company or airline to make the offer of a voucher attractive enough to persuade a passenger to choose that over a cash refund.
If you are considering accepting vouchers, we would advise you considering asking for one or more of the following
The voucher is valid for an extended period. We would recommend a minimum of two years, preferably five.
The voucher is protected against airline (or tour operator) insolvency in some way, and you have a right to a full refund should this happen.
The voucher is transferable to another person.
The voucher is for a higher amount than the cash value.
What Can I Do If The Holiday Company Has Agreed To A Refund, But I Haven't Received It Yet?1
Under EU Regulation 261/2004 an airline is legally obliged to provide a refund within seven days of cancelling the flight.
For cancelled holidays, the relevant law is The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations (2018), which stipulate that refunds should be made within 14 days. We have heard from many clients who have waited much longer than this or haven't received the refund at all.
We are taking on cases for those who have yet to receive their refunds, speeding up the process and ensuring you receive what is rightfully yours as quickly as possible.
How Do I Apply For A Refund For A Cancelled Cruise Because Of Coronavirus?
The same legal rights apply for cruises as they do for packaged holidays and flights. You will have numerous legal options available to you including The Consumer Rights Act, your contract with the cruise provider and the guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority.
I Can’t Get Through To Anyone On The Phone, What Should I Do?
Submit your refund request in writing. If you are not given the option of a refund then the next step should be to telephone customer services or alternately put the request in writing, keeping copies.
For EU flights, the law is clear that the refund must be provided by the airline that was going to operate the flight and not the company that sold the flight (e.g. a travel agent).
In practical terms we’d also suggest that the passenger submits their refund request in writing using the following text:
I understand that my flight [Flight Number] on [Flight Date] has been cancelled and I therefore request a full refund pursuant to Articles 5(1)(a) and 8(1)(a) of EC Regulation No. 261/2004. You are reminded that the refund must be made within seven days by bank transfer or cheque. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not accept a travel voucher.
Can I Claim The Money Back Under Section 75 Of The Consumer Credit Act?
Customers seeking a refund can action a section 75 claim through their credit card company if they paid on their credit card.
This refers to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which provides a purchaser with the right to claim a refund or damages from their credit card provider, rather than the supplier that actually provided the goods or services.
This law applies to purchases between £100 and £30,000 that have been made by credit card. This must be ‘per item’, so if you spent £300 on 6 individual flights that are £50 each then you do not qualify for this protection.
If you use your credit card to make a part payment for a purchase – for instance if you’re paying a deposit now and then the rest later, then the total amount paid is still covered.
The protection gives you the right to claim damages from the credit card company when there has been a breach of contract or misrepresentation by the supplier. This can be particularly handy when the supplier is no longer in business, they’re based abroad or perhaps you just can’t get hold of them – in all these situations you are perfectly entitled to make a claim against the credit card company.
There is no legal requirement to present your claim to the supplier first, however this may be advisable as it can sometimes be the quickest way to get the outcome you want.
If the supplier does not resolve the complaint to your satisfaction then you can bring a claim against the credit card company.
This is usually achieved by filling in a specific form or writing to them.
A section 75 claim would not work for transactions made with a debit card. In these instances, some banks have “chargeback” options whereby they can look to reverse the transactions. As this is not a route outlined in law, the rules and timeframes for “chargebacks” are dependent on the bank used.
In these instances, we recommend that travellers contact their bank and see if a chargeback is a viable way to get their money back.
Should I Issue Court Proceedings Myself?
Issuing Court Proceedings should always be a last resort but if an airline or tour operator is refusing to refund money they are legally obliged to return, we are of the opinion that legal action is the best way forward.
If the airline does not respond or does not agree then the passenger can either issue court proceedings or use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). A list of the airlines that have signed up to ADR are available here.
Claiming through ADR is usually free, except if complaining about British Airways, as they use a company called ‘CEDR’, that charge an upfront fee of £25 (Which is repayable if/when CEDR find in favour of the passenger).
Under the Package Travel Regulations (2018) it is outlined that refunds should be processed without undue delay and no later than 14 days after the package has been terminated.
If travellers have not received a refund after this time, we would recommend initiating legal proceedings against the Tour Operator. The first step to do this is to send the Tour Operator a “Letter before Action”.
Please note, we are currently investigating a small number of cases for clients, but are not accepting any further new cases at this time. We will update this page if that changes in the future.