How do I claim a refund for my summer holiday?

Harvey Jones 27 May 2020

Amid all the tragedies from COVID-19, the nation's summer holiday plans have been cancelled. And to make it even worse many travel companies are dragging their feet when it comes to offering refunds. So what are you due and how do you get your money back? 

Should I cancel? 

If your holiday hangs in the balance, do not cancel it yourself. That way, the decision is yours, rather than forced upon you. If you show a “disinclination to travel”, you will lose your money. 


What if I have paid the deposit? 

You face a tricky decision if you have put down a deposit and the balance is due, but you don’t know if your holiday will go ahead. If you cancel when things are unclear, you will lose that deposit.  

To retain full consumer rights under the ATOL scheme and Package Travel Regulations (PTR), pay the balance when it is due. To avoid throwing good money after bad, talk to your holiday company first. 


What if I am shielding at home? 

If you are ill or shielding, contact your holiday provider and travel insurer to discuss rebooking or a refund on medical grounds. 


When is a refund due? 

The law is simple. If you booked a package holiday or flight before the crisis that has been cancelled because of travel restrictions, you are due a full refund.  

Payments may take longer than the statutory 14 days, possibly up to six months, but your money remains protected under ATOL and PTR. 


What if I'm offered a voucher? 

Many companies are offering credit notes or vouchers instead, citing exceptional circumstances. You are not obliged to accept this, but can request a refund instead. You may have to be persistent to get it, though. 


Is a voucher safe? 

The drawback with accepting a voucher, rather than a refund or rebooking, is that your travel company may go bust, making your voucher worthless. Also, if you have to cancel or rebook your rearranged trip for any reason, your travel company and insurer may not reimburse you. 


What if I booked directly with a foreign hotel? 

Getting compensation may be harder in this case. Contact your hotel or apartment to see if they will refund or let you rebook. If not, claim on your travel insurance


What protection do I have? 

If you can, book your holiday using a credit card, rather than a debit card. Your card issuer will protect purchases between £100 and £30,000 under the Consumer Credit Act Section 75.  

The COVID-19 crisis is also a reminder of the importance of taking out travel insurance the moment you book. 


Can I book a future holiday now? 

You should be able to book a package holiday or flight knowing you will get your money back if it is cancelled. Talk to your travel company and insurer beforehand, to be sure, and use a credit card for added protection. If booking accommodation separately, look for a free cancellation option. 

Read more: How to have a holiday romance

Read more: Amazing lost places around the world

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.