HOLIDAYMAKERS have had trips to Spain thrown into chaos due to changing government travel advice, but can you get a refund from your airline?
We take a look at what British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, and Ryanair are doing, if anything, to help passengers with trips affected by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) new rules on Spain.
Holidaymakers have been warned not to travel to Spain but most flights are still going ahead[/caption]
It comes as the FCO this week advised against all non-essential travel to Spain, including to the Balearics and Canary islands.
This means travel insurance policies are unlikely to cover you if you travel against the FCO’s advice.
Holidaymakers currently out in Spain or who decide to travel anyway will also have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return to the UK, or risk a £1,000 fine.
The shake-up has left many passengers no longer wanting to fly but the majority of airlines are continuing to run flights as normal.
Quarantine: your questions answered
What happens when anybody arrives from Spain?
Travellers returning to the UK from Spanish mainland, the Canary Islands and Balearics will have to fill out a form declaring where they will be for the next 14 days and stay put.
What if I refuse to give my address or break quarantine?
Fines start at £100 for failing to fill in the form in England. Breaching the self-isolation will result in a £1,000 penalty for UK citizens or possible deportation for foreign nationals.
Is anyone exempt from quarantine?
Foreign diplomats and those who travel regularly to and from the UK, such as lorry drivers and medical workers, are not covered by the rules. Elite sports such as Formula One and Champions League footballers are also exempt, providing they create “bubbles”.
What happens if I have to be back at work the next day?
It is up to your employer to grant you time off. Before last night there was no automatic compensation for people who miss work or lose business due to quarantine.
Are all parts of Spain on the ‘don’t travel’ black list?
Separately, the Foreign Office says to avoid all but essential travel to mainland Spain, but this does not extend to the Canary Islands and Balerarics. However, holidaymakers in all parts of Spain including the islands WILL have to quarantine.
Why is this necessary?
A fresh outbreak of the virus in Spain has increased the risk of tourists spreading the infection in the UK. The Government says the measures are backed by science and will help prevent a second wave imported from abroad.
Here’s what it means for you. Bear in mind this applies to those who booked directly with the airline or its package travel arm.
Those who booked via a third party should complain to the organisation they booked with in the first instance.
British Airways – flights can be switched for a voucher
British Airways is still operating flights to Spain as normal, which means you can’t get a full refund from the airline.
If you no longer want to travel it is, however, offering vouchers which you can use on a future booking up until April 30, 2022.
Just bear in mind there are a few catches; namely it only applies to those with travel up to September 30, 2020, if booked before March 3, 2020, or for travel up to December 31, 2020 if booked after March 3, 2020.
If you have a flight-only booking, you must also exchange it for a voucher before check-in for that flight closes.
For those with a BA package holiday eg, a flight with a hotel or car booking, you have up to seven days after the government’s announcement to request a voucher, or before check-in closes on the day of your outward flight, if sooner.
Once you’ve got your vouchers, also bear in mind that they’re redeemable per person, not per booking, and that the person named on the voucher has to be be the person to subsequently use the voucher.
EasyJet – you can change your booking but you may be charged a fee
EasyJet is also continuing to fly to Spain despite the goverment’s warning.
If you no longer want to travel, you can change your booking as long as you do so before 11.59pm tomorrow (July 30).
It’s waived its usual flight change fee for Spanish bookings within 14 days of departure, although you will be charged for any difference in price.
EasyJet has also currently waived its usual fee on all flights changed more than 14 days before travel.
Alternatively, you can request a voucher for the value of your booking by calling easyJet’s customer service team.
Cash refunds won’t be provided.
Jet2 – flights cancelled and cash refunds offered
Jet2 is the only major airline to actually cancel flights as a result of the government’s advice.
It’s cancelled package trips and flights to its destinations in mainland Spain (Costa de Almeria, Alicante, Malaga, and Murcia) up to and including August 16.
Plus, it’s now cancelled flights and packages to the Balearic and Canary Islands too up to and including August 9.
This affects trips to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Majorca, Menorca, and Ibiza.
Customers affected by any changes to flights or holidays are being offered a range of options, including rebooking with no admin fee, a credit note or a cash refund.
Jet2 says it will be in touch with passengers to discuss their options.
Ryanair – flights can be moved but you may be charged a fee
Ryanair is continuing to fly to Spain as normal.
It will, however, let you change your flight, although you might be charged a change fee to do so.
Only those with bookings made after June 10, 2020 for travel in July 2020 and August 2020, and new bookings made after July 16, 2020 for September 2020 can change their flights free of charge.
And even then, the free flight change is not available on changes made within seven days of departure.
All other bookings are subject to a change fee, and in both scenarios you’ll have to pay any difference in flight cost.
Vouchers and cash refunds are not being offered.
Can I claim on my insurance or from my card provider?
If your flight is still going ahead you’ll find it hard to claim from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or under Chargeback as the service you paid for is still going ahead.
Whether your travel insurance covers this scenario depends on your policy, and many purchased after March 2020 won’t cover coronavirus-related cancellations.
If your flight is actually cancelled, your airline should pay you a full cash refund.
more coronavirus travel advice
For those struggling to claim their money back due to a cancelled flight, try your card provider next, followed by your travel insurance.
If you’re unhappy with your treatment from an airline, you can complain to whichever alternative dispute resolution scheme it’s signed up to. See the Civil Aviation Authority’s website for a full list.
Note that Ryanair isn’t signed up to an ADR scheme.