Since March 17, the day the government advised against all non-essential travel overseas hundreds of thousands of holidays had to be cancelled.
The sheer weight of pressure this has placed on travel companies is sometimes more than burdensome and some holidaymakers are finding that their hopes for getting a timely refund from companies are as dashed as their cancelled pre-paid holiday plans.
Typically a refund for a cancelled holiday is given within a fortnight. But these are not typical times.
Travel agents, who on the whole, would like to comply, are finding that their cash-flow is depleted because they themselves are waiting for refunds from hotels and other operators bought on your behalf for holidays during March, April and May. Some are offering holidaymakers a travel voucher in a bid to stave off bankruptcy.
ABTA, the British the travel trade association have asked the government to extend the amount of time they can give a refund to be extended to 4 months. So far this has not been granted.
The Abta chief executive, Mark Tanzer said:
“The global pandemic has put an enormous financial strain on tour operators and travel agents, with businesses seeing a collapse in sales while facing immediate repatriation costs and refund demands for cancelled holidays on a scale that is unmanageable.
“Existing regulations are entirely unsuited to deal with this situation. These businesses are themselves waiting for refunds from hotels and airlines”.
In the meantime, holidaymakers are looking for redress and indeed some are now in need of that money and so for them, a delay or a voucher simply does not work.
It is worth noting that if you accept a refund credit note or a cash refund from your tour operator or travel agent this is financially protected in the event the travel business fails.
However, if you find that your circumstances allow and you can be patient, biding your time may mean an easier journey to getting your refund and allows the travel company to stay in business long enough to make the refund.
What is a Refund Credit Note?
A Refund Credit Note is a voucher that be used to book another holiday with the same company at a later date – or, crucially, redeemed for cash at a certain later date. Abta says this should be 31 July 2020. The Refund Credit Note is protected by Atol (or, for non-air holidays, Abta), so long as it is drafted correctly.
To be drafted correctly it must expressly identify the original booking reference and attach a copy of the cancelled booking confirmation/cancellation invoice and, where appropriate, Atol certificate.
Currently, Easyjet is contacting their customers to offer them a full refund or a change of date for travel they want it.
Incidentally, some travel insurance policies may payout. Check with your insurer to find out if you are covered.