Sometimes cancelling a trip is absolutely unavoidable. Here are your rights for when things go wrong.
If you book through a travel agent, tour operator, online website or direct, the firm will have terms and conditions covering your right to cancel. If there are costs attached then these should be upfront and clear. Under consumer law, businesses can ask you to pay a cancellation fee to cover their losses, but this must be ‘in proportion’ to what they are losing. If a holiday is non-refundable, we’d expect to see a ton of clear warnings before you click.
Many booking sites give you free cancellation as an option which you should always choose if it’s available – while popping something in your diary for a few weeks before the free cancellation ends.
New rules that kicked in last July (the Packaged Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018) mean that if you booked two or more different parts of a holiday (flights and hotel for example) from the same firm, it’s likely to be a ‘packaged holiday’. This is also likely to be the case if you’ve booked through a tour operator.
This means you might be entitled to cancel the holiday without a fee if:
It’s incredibly important to get a good travel insurance policy that covers you from the point you book the holiday, not the day you go away.
If you buy travel insurance with immediate cover, this should cover you for things like cancellation or curtailment if you:
There are other scenarios that may be covered depending on the policy. There’s also a load of caveats, unfortunately. But don’t worry – if the firm won’t pay a claim, the free Financial Ombudsman can look at travel insurance disputes.
If a firm cancel and you’re worried it’s going out of business, contact the airlines, hotels and other companies who you were booked with to see if they have your money and are able to reopen or honour the booking.
If it’s not looking positive, then don’t delay. Contact your card provider and ask them to ‘chargeback’ the money. Explain the has told you they are cancelling the holiday or indications are they’re going bust.
If you’ve paid on a credit card (over £100 and under £30,000) you may be able to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for a full refund from the card provider – even if you only paid a deposit on the card.
If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then ATOL can help with disputes and cancellations. If it’s without a flight or a cruise the ABTA can potentially help. Their websites have guides on how to proceed.