Holidaymakers have been faced with travel chaos in recent weeks, as airlines and airports cancelled thousands of flights.
The cancellations have been blamed on staff shortages and increased demand for foreign travel after the easing of Covid restrictions, leaving current staffing levels unable to cope.
Government regulations will now allow a one-off “amnesty” on airport slots to help manage capacity at the biggest airports, allowing airlines to cancel flights without being penalised for not using their slot.
Summer schedules must be finalised by this Friday and it is understood that flights cancelled or removed from airline schedules after the deadline will not fall under the slot amnesty.
The move should help to minimise disruption and give holidaymakers confidence that they will not be hit with cancellations at the last minute.
But flight disruption is not the only hurder travellers face this summer, as rising Covid infections could also put a dampener on holiday plans.
NHS guidance says you should not travel if you are feeling unwell. It states: “Even if your symptoms are not related to Covid-19, you will increase your risk of being denied boarding or being quarantined if your illness is detected at entry or exit screening at airports, during your flight, or when crossing borders."
If your travel provider cancels your holiday due to Covid changes, you are entitled to a full refund. But if you cancel your trip because you have contracted the virus ahead of travelling, rules can differ depending on who you booked with.
Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExert says if you are still allowed to travel but decide not to go, you have no automatic right to a refund.
The advice states: “If you are still permitted to go on your holiday under official restrictions and guidance, it’s important to understand you don’t have any automatic right to a refund if you choose not to go.
“If your holiday’s still on or the hotel’s still open, your refund rights will simply depend on the terms and conditions you agreed to when you booked.
“Of course, these may still let you cancel for free or move your trip, and some firms are also offering extra flexibility to all their customers at the moment due to coronavirus, so it’s still worth checking what your options are.”
If you have a holiday booked this summer, these are the refund policy rules you need to know for major airlines in the event you fall ill with Covid.
Ryanair says that once a flight is operational, and does not have a delay exceeding five hours, it is not possible to get a refund.
The website states: “All Ryanair flights are changeable but they cannot be cancelled.
“Flight dates/times/routes can be changed up to 2.5 hours before the flight departure time (name changes can be changed up to 2 hours before the flight) via ‘My Bookings’ unless you have already checked in, in which case please contact one of our agents using our live chat.
“You don’t need to notify us if you are unable to travel and if you can’t use your outbound flight, you can still use your return flight.”
The airlines says if you do not travel on your booked flight, the airfare, fees and charges are non-refundable, meaning you will not be refunded if you get Covid before your trip and are unable to go.
Ryanair does state that travellers can apply within one month of the date of travel for a refund of the Government Tax paid, but refunds are subject to an ‘administration fee’ of £17. As such, if the refund is less than the administration fee, you won’t get any money back.
The budget airline also says it "may" offer a refund if your cancellation is due to the death of an immediate family member.
EasyJet says any travellers who have Covid symptoms should not travel or go to the airport.
Customers that would like to fly at a later date can change their booking up to two hrs before departure through the ‘Manage Bookings’ section online, but change fees will apply.
EasyJet’s website states that if you cancel your booking more than 24 hours after making it you will not be refunded any of your fare.
However, if customers need to cancel due to serious illness or close family bereavement, they should contact the Customer Services Team as soon as possible and a team will review the case.
In this case you may be offered a fee waiver or flight voucher towards the value of a subsequent flight. You may be asked to provide proof of these special circumstances, such as a Covid test result certificate.
Jet2’s cancellation policy states that customers will not be entitled to any additional compensation if their holiday has been cut short or cancelled due to Covid.
The website says: “In line with the advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, delays and/or cancellations arising from circumstances relating to Covid-19 will be treated as extraordinary circumstances and therefore not eligible for compensation under Regulation EC261/2004.
“Customers will not be entitled to any additional compensation under the Package Travel Regulations, as the reason for the holiday not continuing or being cancelled is outside of our control.”
However, if your holiday has been cancelled by Jet2 as a result of Covid, your holiday will be automatically cancelled and a full refund will be processed within 14 days.
TUI’s ‘Holiday Promise’ policy states that if your situation changes and you are unable to travel due to any of the following reasons, you can make a fee-free change up until the day of departure:
- If you or someone in your party tests positive for Covid*
- If there is a local lockdown in the area you live in and you are unable to travel
- If vaccination, testing or quarantine requirements have changed since you booked and you are no longer able to travel**
- If the airline informs you restrictions in your destination have been introduced after you booked that will significantly impact your holiday enjoyment
Customers will need to show proof of a positive test, such as a PCR test, to change their holiday.
The airline adds: “*To make a change, you’ll need to test positive within the five days before you’re due to depart, not before. Once you’ve told us that you’ve tested positive, you’ll have 48 hours to choose your new holiday.
“**You must change your holiday within seven days of any new requirements being announced.
“For bookings that include a non-TUI Airways flight – if you notify us of a fee-free Covid-19 related change within 72 hours of your planned departure, you’ll need to change your holiday to one that includes a TUI Airways flight.
“This is the case for all holidays due to depart on or before October 31, 2022.”
If you made a booking before 8 June 2022 for travel due to be completed by 30 September 2022, you can change your dates, destination or cancel if needed, with no change booking fee. However, a fare difference may still apply.
If your booking falls outside of these dates, British Airways’ standard delays, cancellation and refund options are applicable.
If you need to cancel your flight, you can claim a voucher to the value of your booking, valid for travel until 30 September 2023, if you made your booking on or before 7 June 2022 and your journey is due to be completed (departure and return) by 30 September 2022.
If you made an Avios Reward Flight Saver, Reward Flight, Companion or Gold Upgrade Voucher booking before 7 June 2022, your travel is completed (departure and return) by 30 September 2022 and you haven’t made any changes from 8 June 2022 onwards, you can cancel without a fee and your Companion or Gold Upgrade Voucher will revert back to the original expiry date.
Any bookings with a change made after 8 June 2022 will be subject to the standard fare rules of the new journey.