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How to get a travel refund if your holiday gets cancelled

Tom Church
Tom Church
  | Edited by Tom Church
Updated 13th December 2021

It’s not easy having to deal with a cancelled holiday, and Latest Deals wants to help you with everything you need to know about travel refunds to make your life a bit easier! Learn in this guide how to get a travel refund if your trip gets cancelled.

5 Tips BEFORE You Book Your Holiday  

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1. Before booking any overseas holiday, check the UK Government website to learn the rules you must follow to leave and enter the UK. 

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the rules regarding overseas travel have been changing  constantly. NEVER book a holiday without checking the UK Government Official Website as there is a step by step checklist you must follow to be able to travel without any issues. You can check this checklist here. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is separate advice depending on where in the UK you are travelling from or to. So the rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Irland can be different, make sure you check them according to your location. 

2. Read the cancellation and refund policy before booking a flight, hotel,  car hire or holiday package 

You never know what could happen, so it's always better to be protected against unexpected cancellations to be able to get a full refund. If there is a cancellation and refund policy, make sure you read and are happy with it before paying and booking the service. 

3. Package holidays usually offer better cancellation protection. 

If you have a package holiday, which usually includes flights, hotel and car hire, you are more likely to have better cancellation protection. Since 2018, tour operators have been working to give better cancellation protection to their customers. 

Buying everything together in the same transaction can be more advantageous. It's important to keep in mind that the tour operator will mention their cancellation policy regarding your booking, and in some cases, they will charge more to allow you to cancel your booking and receive a full refund. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you book everything from the same tour operator but with different booking references, your protection is then limited. 

4. If your package holiday comes with flights, you will get ATOL Protection, and if it comes without flights (and with cruises or trains), you will get ABTA Protection. 

ATOL provides financial protection if your tour operator goes bust. This type of protection can ensure you can get a refund or continue your holiday as planned. And most importantly, ATOL can help you if you have a complaint to make against one of its members. So if you have complained directly to the company and they didn't resolve your complaint, you can then go to ATOL. 

ABTA also provides financial protection if your tour operator goes bust. This type of protection can ensure you can get a refund or continue your holiday as planned. And most importantly, ABTA can help you if you have a complaint to make against one of its members. So if you have complained directly to the company and they didn't resolve your complaint, you can then go to ABTA. 

You can learn how to complain to ATOL and ABTA below in this guide.

IMPORTANT NOTE: ABTA protection also applies to packages with flights, so if your ATOL complaint wasn't enough, you could also complain to ABTA. You will need your ATOL complaint number to fill your new claim with ABTA. 

5. Invest in travel insurance to protect your trip 

The best way to protect your trip is by getting travel insurance that covers cancellations and guarantees a full refund. We have a full guide about travel insurance. 

How to Get a Refund on Your Holiday or Flights

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If the company has cancelled your holiday 

If the company has cancelled your booking, you have the right to get a full refund

This includes a package holiday, a hotel booking, a flight leaving from the UK, a flight arriving in the UK with a UK or EU airline and a flight arriving in the EU with a UK airline. 

If you want to cancel your holiday 

If you want to cancel your booking for any reason, you might not be able to get a refund. What you can try to do is to rebook for another time. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: It's important to always book your holiday aware of the cancellation policy. Usually, travel companies charge a bit extra to allow cancellations, which can be a good investment during these uncertain times. Another possibility is to get travel insurance that covers cancellations. We also have a full guide about travel insurance. 

Keep in mind that if you are cancelling your booking because of coronavirus, it might be better to wait and see if the company doesn't cancel first, then you are automatically entitled to a refund, but make sure to respect the cancellation window to be able to get a refund or to rebook. 

If you can't travel because of coronavirus, you might be able to get a refund or choose to rebook for another time. 

Nowadays, most travel companies have a coronavirus cancellation and refund policy, and you should look for it before booking your holiday. 

What to do if you're offered a voucher instead of a refund

If the company has cancelled your booking, they must give you a full refund, and you don't have to accept a voucher instead. 

On the other hand, if you want to cancel your booking, accepting a voucher can be a good option. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you understand how the voucher works and how long you have to use it. 

What to do if your refund is taking longer than expected 

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Usually, after a refund is approved, it should take from 14 to 30 days to be sent to your 

chosen bank account. If after 30 days you haven't received your refund, you can complain. 

First, complain directly to the company, then if unsuccessful, you should complain to  ATOL or ABTA, and finally, go to the small claims court, if applicable. 

How to complain to ATOL 

You can only complain to ATOL if your package comes with ATOL Protection. If it does, you will need to fill a form and wait up to 28 days for a resolution. You can learn more about this here. 

How to complain to ABTA  

You can only complain to ABTA if your tour operator is an ABTA Member. If it's, you will need to fill a form and wait up to 28 days for a resolution. You can learn more about this here

IMPORTANT NOTE: By law, your refund should be with you within 14 days for cancelled services. 

What if the company won't give you a refund

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If it's within your rights and the company won't give you a refund, there are some things you can do. First, you can contact your travel insurance company if you have one. Second, you can contact your bank. Your rights change depending on how you have paid for the holiday:

If you paid by debit card

If you have put your holiday on a debit card, you can try the chargeback scheme

Call your bank and explain the situation. Say you would like to make a claim via “chargeback”. 

You may be asked to provide evidence of your communication with the company, including emails, dates of calls etc. 

Some banks offer this service, but it can only be used to reclaim money for services that you haven't been provided with. Usually, there is a 120-day time limit from the date of the purchase. 

There isn't a limit on how much you are covered, as this depends on each case. Chargeback is not a legal right, but an optional service some banks provide.

If you paid by credit card

If you paid for your holiday on a credit card, you can try claiming a refund via Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Learn more about this here. 

In this case, you can also reclaim money for services that you haven't been provided with, and there isn't a time limit. You must have spent a minimum of £100 to make this claim. You are covered by services costing between £100 and £30,000.

FAQ

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