Many people will have holidays and trips planned over the next few months that are now disrupted due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Currently, the Department of Foreign Affairs have said that all non-essential travel (including holidays) should be avoided until further notice.
Many flights, ferries and cruises have been cancelled, and it is difficult to say when these restrictions will be lifted. If you have booked travel, it helps to know your rights if your travel is cancelled.
Should I cancel my holiday?
If you have a trip planned in the next few weeks, you will probably have to cancel it. You are only entitled to a refund if the Department of Foreign Affairs has specifically warned against travelling to that area, such as Italy.
However, if you were planning on travelling somewhere that doesn’t have a travel warning, you may be able to work with the airline, accommodation provider, or travel agent to make alternative arrangements.
Can I get my money back?
Whether or not you can get your money back can depend on the company you have booked with and the restrictions in the destination you were planning on travelling to.
Contact airlines and accommodation providers
Contact the companies you have booked with and ask if there’s anything they can do. Many airlines are offering to reschedule flights free of charge or for a fee. Hotels and other accommodation providers may be willing to find alternative dates. AirBnB are currently offering refunds on stays with a check-in date between 14 March 2020 and 31 August 2020 – however, this does not apply if you booked the trip after 14 March 2020.
If you have not cancelled your trip yet, continue to check with your flight and accommodation providers to see if they have updated their policy.
If your flight is cancelled by the airline, you are entitled to one of the following:
- A refund of the cost of your ticket within 7 days
- To be rebooked on the earliest available flight to the destination
- To be rebooked at a later date, depending on the availability of seats
If your ferry or cruise was cancelled, you are entitled to a refund or to travel at a later date.
Package holiday refunds
If you booked a package holiday, your rights depend on the date you were planning on travelling.
- Packages due to start before 20 July: You are entitled to a full refund, and you do not have to pay a cancellation fee.
- Packages due to start after 20 July: You are entitled to cancel the booking and get a refund, but you may have to pay a cancellation fee.
If your package holiday has been cancelled by the travel agent or package provider, you are entitled to a full refund without having to pay a cancellation fee. You can also choose to reschedule the holiday if you wish.
My hotel is closed but they won’t give me a refund
If your hotel is in an area under lockdown, you are entitled to get a refund or to reschedule. If you used a booking website, you will most likely need to go directly to the hotel to get a refund.
If you had a non-refundable booking with the hotel, you will need to check their Terms and Conditions to see if it includes situations where the hotel cannot fulfil your booking.
If you believe you are entitled to a refund but the hotel is still not cooperating, and you paid by debit or credit card, you can ask your bank if they can do a chargeback to put the money back on your card.
If the hotel has not closed but you still want to cancel, you may not be entitled to a refund if you made a non-refundable booking.
Travel insurance and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
If you took out travel insurance before the Department of Foreign Affairs issued travel restrictions, and it included ‘disruption cover’ or ‘catastrophe cover’, then you may be able to claim back any costs that your airline or accommodation provider will not pay.
If you took out travel insurance after travel restrictions were announced, it is not likely that the insurance provider will pay.