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HOLIDAY HELL

Brits with Spanish package holidays booked WILL get refunds if even flight go ahead

HOLIDAYMAKERS can get a full refund for package deals to Spain if they can no longer go due to a travel ban, even if flights go-ahead.

Tour operators and travel agents must offer customers their money back if they no longer want to go on their holiday following a u-turn on travel advice from the government.

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Brits have been advised not to travel to Ibiza due to a spike in cases in Spain
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Brits have been advised not to travel to Ibiza due to a spike in cases in SpainCredit: Bav Media

Over the weekend, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) pulled mainland Spain from its safe travel list after a spike in infections.

Last night it extended the all but essential travel ban to the Balearic and Canary Islands too, including Majorca, Ibiza and Tenerife.

The new regulations have left thousands of British tourists in the lurch about upcoming trips abroad.

Many airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways, have said that flights will continue to Spain as planned, meaning that the firms don't have to refund customers if they choose not to travel.

Spain's new travel rules

FOREIGN OFFICE ADVICE:

  • Don't travel to mainland Spain unless essential
  • Brits are now (as of 27 July) being advised against all but essential travel to the islands too

14 DAY QUARANTINE

  • Everyone coming back from Spain OR the Spanish islands must quarantine for 14 days at home
  • They must self isolate and give an address of where they are staying, or they face a £1000 fine

WHY HAS IT CHANGED?

This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).

SHOULD I GO HOME?

  • The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.
  • Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
  • You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.

But those who booked a package deal through a travel agent or tour operator will be able to get their money back in full, including flights, if their trip is affected by the latest FCO advice.

It comes after the competitions watchdog warned package holiday firms face legal action if trips have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

By the start of July, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has received more than 17,500 complaints about the difficulty in obtaining refunds or information.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a trade body that represents travel firms, says that under the Package Travel Regulations firms must offer customers the option of a full refund in these cases.

A spokesperson told The Sun that in the event of FCO advice changing since the trip was booked, customers must be offered the "correct options by the package organiser".

They said: "An alternative holiday can be found for the customer, but if this constitutes a significant change to the original booking, e.g. the holiday is in a different country, the customer must have the option of a full refund.

"Equally, if no alternative can be arranged, a full refund is due to the customer."

Will my travel insurance cover my holiday to Spain?

MANY Brits have been left confused after the FCO changed its travel advice for Spain to “all but essential travel”.

The Sun spoke to Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to find out what it means for your travel insurance. He said: 

"If you’re stuck in Spain at the moment and not coming back immediately, your travel policy will continue to cover you in the usual way if you lose possessions or need emergency care. 

"If you’re going to Spain regardless of the latest government advice, then it will invalidate any insurance policy you had taken out for the trip. 

"You should talk to your travel agent or tour operator if your trip has been affected by the change in advice. 

"Holidaymakers are entitled to a refund in full if trips have been cancelled due to FCO advice, but not if you booked separately. 

"If you make arrangements to defer or change the destination of your trip then you can normally transfer your travel insurance. 

"Many policies will cover you for cancellation if the government advice changes to all but essential travel, as long as the policy was purchase before the latest guidance was issued.

"But more recently, insurers have been adding Covid-19 exclusions for known risks that be taken when you book a holiday so you might not actually be covered. 

"You need to check your policy to see if you are covered.”

This is only for package deals that are affected by FCO guidance - it's not clear how long the travel ban will last but some tour operators are contacting customers who's holiday will be impacted.

For example, Love Holidays is contacting customers who are due to go to Spain in the coming weeks, prioritising those who are going away first.

Meanwhile, TUI has cancelled all package deals to Spain up until and including August 9 2020.

It's important that you don't cancel your holiday - if you do, then you won't be able to claim your money back as it's your choice not to go ahead with the trip.

Plus you may also have to fork out for extra cancellation charges so you should wait until your travel operator contacts you.

If you are worried about an upcoming trip, you should speak to your travel provider as some agents are offering alternative arrangements.

These include changing the dates or destination of your holiday for free or accepting a credit note that can be used to book another trip away at a later date.

If you do opt for your money back, it should usually be transferred to you within 14 days but ABTA has warned that it may take some firms longer than this.

The spokesperson added: "Travel businesses are currently operating in exceptionally difficult circumstances, with higher volumes of enquiries and often with fewer staff, and because of this it may take longer to process refunds, which is understandably frustrating for customers. 

"The refund should be processed as soon as the company is able to and you should ask the company for a timeframe for when you should receive the refund."

If you didn't book a package deal, you may be able to get a refund through your travel insurance as long as you bought it before the FCO advice was in place.

Alternatively, you may be able to claim the money back through your credit card provider through Section 75.

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