MARTIN Lewis is warning Brits booking trips abroad this summer to check the small print or risk losing the cash if the trip is cancelled.
Many popular travel firms, including Jet2, Tui, easyjet and Ryanair, have updated their policies regarding the coronavirus outbreak, meaning you may not be protected if your holiday can’t go ahead.
The warning comes as furious travellers rage at the Government this week over its mixed messages on summer holidays.
The Transport Secretary said trips away may be off the cards until everyone is vaccinated but millions of Brits have already booked breaks.
Now, the MoneySavingExpert is urging optimistic holidaymakers to double check refund policies before booking a trip away.
Speaking on ITV’s Martin Lewis Money Show, he warned viewers that they should only book a trip away if they can afford to lose the cash.
What are my rights if I cancel my trip?
UNFORTUNATELY, if you cancel a trip you aren’t automatically entitled to get your money back.
In fact, your legal right to a refund for flights or a holiday only covers you if the trip is cancelled by the provider.
Some holiday firms and airlines will offer a partial refund if you want to cancel your trip but you’ll likely also be charged a fee.
These vary depending on the company and how close you are to the start of your trip that you cancel.
You’ll find the cancellation fees charged by your holiday provider in the terms and conditions of your booking.
Meanwhile, others will let you cancel your trip and give you the value of your booking on a voucher towards a future trip.
If you want to cancel your trip, it’s worth asking your holiday firm about its policies as it may be flexible.
If you’re able to, you could also wait to see whether the holiday firm will cancel the trip as we get closer to summer.
It’ll likely be frustrating, but make sure you don’t cancel the trip or you won’t be due a refund.
He said: “It depends on the travel firm or company’s policy. Only book now if you could afford to lose the money.
“I would only book now if you have some travel guarantee that you will get the money back.”
Martin emphasised that travel insurance is unlikely to cover cancellations caused by coronavirus now, especially while there is a travel ban in place.
He added: “So it is up to you whether you book or not but we do not know what the future situation is going to book.
“I can’t tell you whether you will be able to get a refund on that holiday or not. Insurance certainly won’t cover it.”
Consumer law states that airlines must give a full cash refund or voucher if your flight is cancelled.
This also applies to travel package providers, where customers are protected by Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
Here, we take you through your refund rights if your trip with Jet2, Tui, easyjet and Ryanair is cancelled or can’t go ahead.
Package holidays booked with TUI are ATOL protected meaning customers will be fully refunded.
Alternatively, you’ll be offered a refund credit as well as a booking incentive if you waive the cash refund.
If you want a cash rather than credit, you can fill in an online form to request this.
If you no longer want to travel, TUI customers can make fee-free changes up until either 21 or 28 days before you original departure date depending on when you booked.
Jet2Holidays has suspended all trips up to and including April 14, 2021.
Meanwhile, holidays to Iceland are suspended up to and including April 26, 2021.
If you’re affected by these changes, you’ll get a full refund automatically.
If you’re due to travel from April 15 2021 onwards, Jet2Holidays said it’ll provide an update closer to the time.
If easyjet cancels your holiday, you’ll receive a full refund back to your original method of payment.
But if you cancel your trip yourself, EasyJet’s terms and conditions state you won’t get the money back.
The only exception is if you cancel within 24 hours of booking, which means you’ll get a full refund minus the cancellation fee.
If you want to change your booking, you can do so at no extra cost (apart from the fare difference) up to 14 days before departure.
Ryanair offers vouchers equal to the cost of the cancelled flights, and these are valid for 12 months.
If you’d prefer the money back, you don’t have to accept a credit note and can request a cash refund instead on Ryanair’s website.
Sadly, Ryanair says customers can’t get a refund if the flight is operational and isn’t delayed by more than two hours.
Instead, you may want to consider changing your flight to a later date by using Ryanair’s free rebooking policy.
The flight change fee has been dropped for all new bookings made after June 10, 2020 but before March 31, 2021, for travel before October 31.
Just keep in mind you must change your flights at least seven days before the original scheduled departure date to avoid rebooking fees.
If you do, remember you must also pay the fare difference if your new ticket is more expensive.
What other options do I have if my trip can’t go ahead?
If you’re struggling to get a refund for a cancelled trip, you may also be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.
Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
If you booked by debit card, you may be able to claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme.
Chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn’t receive.
Claims apply for purchases made by debit card, or by credit card for purchases under £100, and must be done within 120 days of the transaction.
To start a chargeback claim, you need to contact your card provider but as it isn’t written into law there is no guarantee you’ll get your money back.
If you have travel insurance, it may be worth speaking to your provider but they’re less likely to refund you as it should be the airline’s responsibility.
Check the terms and conditions of your policy to see what it says regarding cancellations.