THOUSANDS of holidays to Croatia and Austria have been thrown into chaos after the government imposed new quarantine rules.
Travellers returning from either country to the UK will now have to self-isolate for two weeks, starting from 4am tomorrow.
It follows similar bans on all non-essential travel to France, Spain, Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas due to rising coronavirus cases.
The latest travel restrictions were confirmed last night by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, giving Brits abroad just hours to get back if they want to avoid quarantining.
As many as 20,000 British tourists are thought to be holidaying in Croatia at the moment.
But what does it mean for future bookings and can you get a refund? We explain.
I’ve got separate flights and hotels booked – can I get a refund?
If you no longer want to travel, but your flight and hotel booking hasn't been cancelled, you may struggle to get a refund.
Your first step should be to speak to each individual operator to discuss your options.
Some companies may let you rearrange your trip for free – although they don't have to do this, and it depends on when you're due to travel.
For example, Ryanair will let you change trips booked in July, August, and September for free as long as it's not within seven days of departure.
EasyJet meanwhile will waive fees if you change fares online more than 14 days before travel.
For hotel bookings, contact your booking provider to check what cancellation policy they have in place.
If your flight or hotel booking has been cancelled, then you should receive a refund from your provider – but only if they cancel your trip for you.
What about travel insurance?
If you’ve got travel insurance, you may be entitled to make a claim – but this largely depends on when you took out the insurance.
Policies purchased before coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11 may include cover for travel disruption and cancellations.
However, some policies now have clauses that won't cover holiday cancellations due to coronavirus.
Check your insurance carefully to see what cover you have – if in doubt, speak to your provider.
If you're already in Croatia or Austria, your travel insurance is likely to remain in place until you return home – but travelling now, so against FCO advice, will invalidate your policy.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some "must haves".
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the US
- Repatriation service – The costs of getting you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
I’ve got a package holiday booked – can I get a refund?
Holiday firms are expected to cancel package trips to Croatia and Austria, which means you should get a full cash refund under package travel rules.
But as we've seen with Spain, some package providers are continuing to run holidays, leaving customers struggling to get a refund.
Some firms say they'll only refund the hotel and transfer costs, while airline refunds will only be paid if and when tour operators receive this cash.
It’s crucial you wait for the tour operator to cancel your trip – if you cancel the trip yourself, you won’t be entitled to a refund.
But again, it's worth speaking to your provider to find out if it will offer a goodwill refund, voucher or alternative trip.
Consumer organisation Which? notes how online travel agents, where you pick a hotel and flight to create a package, may not cancel trips.
However, the Package Travel Regulations allows you to claim money back for trips where the FCO is advising against travel.
Can I claim from my card provider?
If your travel provider is refusing to cancel you trip, you're unlikely to be able to get a refund from your card provider.
This is because technically the service you paid for is still going ahead.
Always go to your travel provider in the first instance.
Section 75 and Chargeback rules cover debit card or credit card purchases where you don't get the service you paid for.
Any more questions about your cancelled holiday?
LOOK below for more answers to your travel questions:
Q: I had a package holiday booked – will I have to lose the money if I can’t quarantine on my return?
A: Anyone who has booked has the right to amend their booking or get a refund. You may lose at least part of the cost of your holiday if you have booked with certain travel agents – many online – who packaged up flights and accommodation. Many airlines are continuing to operate flights, even if a country is added to the quarantine list so agents are unable to get a refund on the flight part of your booking.
Contact your travel company or agent and ask what your options are. If you have insurance in place that was taken out before the pandemic there may be some chance of claiming on that if the country you are travelling to is also added to the Foreign & Commonwealth list of countries where they are advising against all but essential travel.
Q: I have flights booked but we’ll now need to quarantine on our return – can I get my money back if I don’t want to travel?
A: It very much depends who you are booking with. Easyjet and British Airways are both allowing customers who have flights cancelled the chance to either rebook, accept a credit note or get a refund.
They are also offering flexible booking policies which allow people to change dates and destinations up to the end of September if you no longer want to travel.
But Ryanair will not offer refunds – it will allow you to change your flights to a different date without having to pay a change fee.
But in better news for travellers, Portugal has been removed from the coronavirus quarantine list.
However, flight prices to Portugal have rocketed by 500% with some return tickets costing over £1,000.
Got a trip to France booked? The Sun has rounded up your refund rights if you no longer want to travel.
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