Martyn James: What happens if we all demand travel refunds?

In the last week Resolver has had literally thousands of enquiries and questions about travel and holidays, so I thought I’d tackle the big ones.

Some would-be holidaymakers face a dilemma

Before we tackle the questions, here’s something for us all to think about. We’re all facing losing out on our summer holidays, but as well as asking, “what are my rights?” we also now have to ask “what is the right thing to do?”

Why can I not have a refund?

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If your flight is cancelled by the airline due to FCO advice, then the rules say you should get a refund within seven days*. That’s for flight from the UK and EU (and other EEA countries) or the airline is based in these countries.

If you have a package holiday than again, you should get a refund within 14 days*.

If you booked a non-package holiday then your rights depend on the T&C’s – but the Competitions and Markets Authority have said these should be clear and upfront.

*BUT… If we all demand refunds, we might just shut down some – or even all – of the travel firms and airlines out there. If you can and are willing to move your holiday forward, you help the industry survive.

Why are flights and accommodation so expensive in six months/a year?

It’s likely that this is algorithms rather than profiteering. Airlines and holiday companies pioneered the demand-driven computer algorithm that raises or lowers prices depending on demand and availability. To beat the computer, wait it out. Keep an eye on prices – they should drop after the initial holiday panic. Prices also go up at busy points like lunchtime or early evening.

Why is my deposit non-refundable?

It may well be non-refundable – but did you understand what you were getting in to when you booked? If you weren’t told you were clicking a non-refundable deposit then make a complaint.

What if the firm goes bust?

If a firm goes bust, then you’ve lost your cash – including vouchers and other forms of credit. However, there are usually a number of warnings before a firm goes under. Keep an eye on updates and if a firm looks like it is about to call in the receivers, then contact your bank or card provider and ask them to “charge back” your money, or if you paid on a credit card over £100 you may be able to make a “section 75” claim under the Consumer Credit Act – contact your card provider.

I’ve been told I can’t cancel – is this right/fair?

Put yourself in the position of the business. It makes sense that a firm would steer you to vouchers or rebooking. I’m not saying that leaving out refunds is right – it isn’t. But these are unprecedented times and the survival of these businesses is on the line.

What if my holiday hasn’t been cancelled yet?

Many people (largely with bookings in June and onwards) have tried to get refunds but have been told the holiday hasn’t been cancelled yet. This is because holiday firms are trying to survive and are only cancelling up to the point where the official advice is to not travel. Realistically, this situation is likely to change, so keep an eye on the news.