It’s difficult to make any sort of predictions or assurances in an unprecedented situation, but it’s understandable if those who have travel plans booked have plenty of questions and concerns about the current situation. Because the updates and advice about coronavirus change on a daily basis, it’s difficult to know where we are going to stand with our travel plans tomorrow, let alone in a few months’ time. But here is an overview of the current Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and how it relates to any holiday plans you might have or have been planning…
What If I Have a Holiday Booked in the Next 30 Days?
As it stands today, the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advice is that British people should avoid all non-essential travel for the next 30 days. This is of course and ongoing situation and it’s possible this period may be extended. As most holidays will come under the ‘non-essential’ umbrella, this means having to cancel your immediate plans.
They advise that your first step should be to contact your travel provider. ABTA advises that if possible, you should consider postponing your holiday instead of cancelling it outright. Not only will this give you something to look forward to once it is safe to travel again, but this will also keep revenue withing the travel industry at a precarious time and help companies stay afloat. It’s also possible your provider may offer you a refund voucher to use at a later date, or a cash refund. In all instances where you are able to amend your travel or claim a refund, it’s important to remember that these companies will be inundated with enquiries and requests at the moment and it may take time to deal with your request or issue any refunds due.
If your booking terms and conditions mean you are unable to amend or claim a refund, then you should contact your travel insurance provider. Of course, whether you are able to make a claim will very much depend on the details of your specific policy, and we’ve put more travel insurance information below on what to look out for.
What About Holidays Further in the Future?
If you have a holiday booked that commences after the 30 day period, the current ABTA advice is to sit tight for now. As the situation is evolving on a daily basis, it’s a possibility that the FCO may issue advice relating to the period when you are booked. As it stands, there is no FCO advice covering beyond the period stated. So if you choose to cancel at present, your travel provider would be under no legal obligation to issue a refund and its unlikely your travel insurance would cover you if you choose to cancel either.
What Does My Travel Insurance Cover Me For?
Again, this all depends on your individual policy. Before the outbreak, many policies would have included ‘disruption’ cover which is what the current coronavirus crisis would come under. However, this isn’t standard in all travel insurance policies, so it’s incredibly important that you check your details if you find you need to make a claim as a result of the pandemic.
What If the Company I Have Booked with Collapses?
Like many other industries, the travel sector has been hugely affected by the coronavirus crisis and will continue to be affected for the foreseeable future. It’s clear many companies are going to struggle and there is a possibility some may not survive. Although we are still in the early days of the pandemic, this is going to be a huge concern for people who have holidays booked for later in the year. The good news is that if you have booked a package holiday, it will be covered by ATOL protection. This means that if your travel provider goes under before you travel, you will be able to receive a refund or replacement booking. And if it happens while you are overseas, then you will be covered for your return home.
Should I Make Travel Plans for Next Year?
As mentioned above, it’s a real possibility that if you cannot travel in the next 30 days (or after this period of government advice changes), then your travel provider may ask if you want to postpone your booking to a later date. ABTA have recommended this as an option if you find yourself in this situation and if advice changes, it should be possible to review going forward.
However, if you are wondering whether you should consider booking travel plans for next year (in anticipation of the coronavirus crisis being a thing of the past), everything indicates that all non-essential travel plans should be put on hold for now. As the situation is unprecedented, there is no way to predict what position we will be in next year. Therefore, booking any travel plans now would leave you on shaky ground. There would also be many question marks regarding travel insurance. Some large insurers have stopped issuing policies altogether at the moment, and the remainder appear to not be offering disruption cover in the current climate. So if you did go ahead and book, it’s doubtful whether you would be in a position to claim a refund if you were unable to travel because on the ongoing situation.
What If I’ve Already Booked Airport Parking?
If you’ve got a holiday booked in the next 30 day or beyond, there’s a good chance you’ve also got an airport parking reservation booked too. Although this will depend on individual parking providers, many allow you to cancel your booking as long as you give more than 24 hours’ notice from the time it is due to commence. Please check with your parking provider in the first instance.
It’s very possible our advice will be out of date in a day or two. For the most up to date travel advice, please refer to the official government page. You can also find help on the ABTA page we’ve linked to above as well as coronavirus advice on the NHS site.