Travel

So when CAN I go holiday? We answer your biggest questions on travelling after lockdown


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AS the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, you could be forgiven for wanting to just break free and escape from it all.

But as we enter the ninth week in lockdown and with little good news on the horizon, many will be wondering what the future is for holidays, both here and abroad.

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 As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc we answer questions from Sun Travel readers — a face-masked tourist is pictured in Benidorm

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As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc we answer questions from Sun Travel readers — a face-masked tourist is pictured in BenidormCredit: Solarpix

Travel Editor Lisa Minot answers some of the most regularly-asked questions from Sun Travel readers.

Q) My holiday was cancelled but I am still waiting for my money back and can’t get through to the company.

A) This is a familiar problem and one there is frustratingly no answer to. If you have bought a package holiday, the regulations state you should receive your refund within two weeks, for a cancelled flight it is seven days. But the sheer number of passengers now trying to get their money back mean this is just not practical with firms running with reduced workforces or trying to access new ways to work from home.

The UK’s largest travel company TUI is currently trying to process 900,000 refunds for holidays cancelled up to June 17. Its phone lines are receiving one million calls a day –  compared to just 45,000 daily before the crisis. And this week, British Airways revealed it had issued cash refunds on 921,000 tickets for 2.1million flights but said that a further 47,000 bookings were yet to be processed.

 Is this the new normal — Bar El Campino on the beach in Mallorca received its first customers by taking extreme hygiene measures after reopening

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Is this the new normal — Bar El Campino on the beach in Mallorca received its first customers by taking extreme hygiene measures after reopeningCredit: Splash News

But the Civil Aviation Authority has announced it is reviewing the way airlines were refunding customers, saying it did not expect companies to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of people who want their money back.

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A CAA spokesman said: “We do not expect airlines to systematically deny consumers their right to a refund.”

If you are struggling, try calling at unsocial hours. Email or even write a letter with your request. Sending a letter via recorded delivery or having a chain of emails will give you concrete evidence you have tried and failed to get your money back and could help you get your money back via travel insurance or your credit card instead.

Q) I have been offered a refund credit note or voucher instead of a refund – should I accept it?

A) Many travel companies, desperate to remain solvent at a time when they are simply giving money back to customers with nothing coming in, are encouraging holidaymakers to accept a voucher to use once we can travel again.

 An airport hostess wears a mask at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris

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An airport hostess wears a mask at Charles De Gaulle Airport, ParisCredit: Represented by ZUMA Press, Inc.

While many would like to support the industry – and get their holiday – the problem remains that the Government has not indicated if these notes or vouchers are financially-protected in the same way a package holiday would be. If you can afford to accept a refund voucher or note and are wanting to travel as soon as you can, you may want to agree.

Q) I am due to pay the full balance for my holiday in the next week – but I am not sure the holiday will even go ahead and I am worried I won’t be able to travel.

A) This is a growing concern for hundreds of thousands of passengers who normally pay the final balance eight weeks before the start of their holiday. And with so many more passengers travelling in July and August, those balances are coming due.

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While no one can say when we will be travelling again, the Government’s plan to bring in a 14-day quarantine for anyone who has travelled abroad will be another obstacle. If you are in this situation, the decision depends on how much of a deposit you have already paid and the terms and conditions of the firm you booked with.

 The UK’s largest travel company TUI is currently trying to process 900,000 refunds for holidays cancelled up to June 17

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The UK’s largest travel company TUI is currently trying to process 900,000 refunds for holidays cancelled up to June 17Credit: Getty Images – Getty

If you only paid a small deposit and have a large balance to pay on a trip you don’t think will happen, then it may be wise to lose a small amount rather than pay a large sum and then wait months for a refund.

But do double check there are no penalties in the terms and conditions if you fail to pay the final balance. If you have paid out a large amount for a package holiday, it is probably worth paying the final balance as this will mean your trip is still covered by the ATOL scheme and has the financial protection that entails. If the company you booked with goes bust, the scheme will repay you.

Q) If I get a BA flight to Europe for a break today and come back next week, what will happen?

A) The Foreign & Commonwealth Office official travel advice is to advise against all but essential travel anywhere in the world. Yet, it is still technically possible to buy a ticket to Amsterdam.

 British Airways revealed it has issued cash refunds on 921,000 tickets for 2.1million flights but said a further 47,000 bookings were yet to be processed

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British Airways revealed it has issued cash refunds on 921,000 tickets for 2.1million flights but said a further 47,000 bookings were yet to be processedCredit: Getty Images – Getty

As quarantine rules for people entering the UK have not yet been introduced you can simply head home again. The lack of definite rules, regulations or even advice on when quarantine will start is at the root of the current confusion.

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Although you could technically travel, it would be totally at your own risk as no travel insurance would cover you should anything happen because of the current advice against all but essential travel.

AND THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION. . .

Q) When will we be able to go on holiday?

A) Simple answer – I don’t know! While everyone is desperate for things to return to normal, it doesn’t look like that is going to happen for a long time.

What is clear is if lockdown easing measures already suggested go ahead as planned, we could be looking at holidaying at home from the start of July.

But any spike could see moves to open up the hospitality industry delayed. My feeling is that holidays abroad may really only be possible from the autumn.

 A woman operates a screening machine as passengers are tested for Covid-19 symptoms at Manchester Airport last week

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A woman operates a screening machine as passengers are tested for Covid-19 symptoms at Manchester Airport last weekCredit: Getty Images – Getty
 Passengers wearing personal protective equipment walk through the arrivals hall after landing at Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport

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Passengers wearing personal protective equipment walk through the arrivals hall after landing at Terminal Two of London Heathrow AirportCredit: AFP – Getty
  • DO you have a question for our travel experts? Are you worried about a break you have booked this summer? Send your queries to travelhelp@the-sun.co.uk
Flight attendant shows how we’ll all have to clean our hotel rooms when we finally travel again



 





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