With traveller confidence at an all-time low, this is an important question. Unfortunately during the ongoing pandemic, we have seen what can happen when things go wrong.
Airlines such as Easyjet and BA scrapped flights, the refund debacle went into freefall and sometimes holidaymakers ended up stranded abroad. Many even lost money on hotel and flights bookings that they had booked independently.
It’s a risky business when you act as your own travel agent
It’s a risky business when you act as your own travel agent. When you buy a flight and then a hotel separately, you have no support. And you may not be able to get a refund on the tours and ancillary services you arranged if the holiday can no longer go ahead.
If you book a package holiday – a package is where there are two or more elements of the holiday booked together via the same agent at the same time – you will be covered by the Package Travel Regulations.
This means when you book a holiday, the agent or operator is bound by law to supply the exact holiday you have booked. In the event that is not possible, they must offer you an opportunity to change your arrangements or give you your money back within 14 days.
Trailfinders this week cancelled bookings until February 12 because of the latest lockdown restrictions. All their customers received their refunds within days.
It is important you ensure that the company has ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) /ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) bonding.
A package bought from an ABTA member in the European Economic Area (EEA) is protected financially. This means that if the travel company ceases trading, you will either be able to take that holiday or get your money back.
The ATOL fund serves to reimburse you if your tour operator goes out a business – as some have in the last year.
Many companies are looking ahead to travel options later in the year and are taking bookings now. They are realistic and understand the need for flexibility and many are offering the opportunity to change or postpone your holiday up to 15 days before you are destined to depart.
Many travel companies now offer reduced deposits, sometimes a cooling-off period within which that sum is fully refundable and even delayed final-balance deadlines. TUI is offering free amendments up to 21 days before departure up to October 31.