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Spotlight

Coronavirus and travel

Isobel McCardie
17th Mar. '20

UPDATE: 24/03/2020
ABTA have updated their customer advice regarding refunds and credit notes. Please refer to the link below as this may be relevant to you. If you are unsure how this affects you and you need any help please feel free to contact me on isobel@rockmyworld.co.uk
https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak

Have your travel plans been affected by Coronavirus? Are you concerned about your future bookings? Are you worried about making a booking for the future?

These are the questions, along with many others that we are now facing every day. Over the last week or so we have seen rapid changes take place within the world of travel. The entire situation is unprecedented and as such the landscape of travel is changing daily. The development of Coronavirus has undoubtedly had a very dramatic effect on our travel industry and has caused great concern for travellers. Currently, there are vast areas of the world that are affected by Coronavirus and we urge you to follow the advice being given on where to travel and not to travel to, and to take reasonable precautions.

As a travel company with 100’s of clients, many of whom are EGGs, our primary role is to advise, support and assist our customers as much as we can to keep them keep on top of the latest developments and information. We have created a list of frequently asked questions that may help you in your current situation.

At this point, we must stress that due to the evolving nature of the situation, travel advice is being updated hourly and terms and conditions are being altered as it all progresses. If you have a holiday that is due to be cancelled or is in the future and you have concerns, then your first port of call has to be your travel provider. Every travel provider will have their own terms.

We strongly advise all travellers to review the latest advice from our governing bodies for the countries you are travelling to. We have collated a few useful links for you to refer to. The information on these links are being updated daily as events unfold.

GOV.UK – FCO Travel Advice & Guidance
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

NHS
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

ABTA
https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak

The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/16/latest-updates-countries-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-fco-warnings

Whilst the team at RMW are prioritising our clients with existing bookings, we are here to help in any way we can and will try and guide you in these uncertain times. We remain hopeful that this will all subside to manageable levels in the not too distant future and we will soon be scribbling our long-awaited holiday dates in the calendar.

In the meantime, if you have booked a holiday with a fellow EGG, please exercise patience at this troubling time. They will undoubtedly be working around the clock and doing their best for you. We are facing challenges with clogged phone lines and disrupted methods of communication, so getting answers will take time. Sometimes, there simply will not be a straightforward answer to your question as we are all in unchartered territory. Let’s stick together and ride this out gracefully.

Rock My World are part of Not Just Travel, our company director recorded a very informative video on this subject. Please view here.

FAQ’s

Important Note: Not all holidays are created equally. If you booked a package holiday then this is treated differently to flight only or accommodation only bookings. If you didn’t use an agent and created a DIY holiday then different rules will apply again. Please refer back to your travel provider(s) for specific information relating to your booking.

Is my booking covered under the ATOL scheme?
The ATOL scheme only covers supplier failure. If your booking is cancelled due to FCO or other Government advice you will be eligible for a full refund* from the tour operators. For more information on what ATOL covers in these circumstances, click here.

I don’t want to go on holiday, what are my options?
You are free to choose to go on holiday or not. It is important to be aware that cancelling your holiday may have financial implications. All dependent on the travel providers T&C this may mean loss of deposit or more if you fall outwith the cancellation dates. In some circumstances, it may be best to continue as you would normally until you are advised that your holiday has been cancelled. If you wait and your holiday is cancelled due to FCO restrictions then you may be entitled to a full refund, or have the opportunity to change your dates free of charge. If you cancel before the supplier does, you may not have the opportunity to receive the same protection and refunds. These rules are not hard and fast and will vary from supplier to supplier. Please contact your travel provider for information specific to your individual booking.

What if my final balance is due, can I get a balance extension due to coronavirus?
We strongly advise that you pay your full balance on time. If you don’t make your final payment and it becomes overdue then you risk the holiday being cancelled and you will lose any deposit you paid. Your travel provider may provide an extension, this would have to be requested on an individual basis with your travel provider.

What if I want to change the holiday?
The normal rules of your Supplier Terms and Conditions will apply. However, as each day unfolds, suppliers are changing these terms to become more flexible than before. Always check with your travel provider first.

What information do I need to know about the virus before my holiday?
You must check the FCO website for full updates as well as the NHS websites.

Is my booking covered by ABTA?
No, ABTA only provides protection in the event of supplier failure. ABTA is a governing body for Tour Operators, and Travel Agents and acts as a liaison for customers between these services. ABTA provides assurances to customers that a member of ABTA will be under strict regulations, for example, health and safety, giving peace of mind and assurance in this and other areas. For more information on what assistance they provide in this situation, visit here.

What protection does PTR give?

PTR, is the acronym for Package Travel Regulations. If any part of your package holiday cannot be fulfilled, whether this is flight or cruise, if you have booked the ‘holiday’ ALL with 1 supplier, for example, all elements are under 1 invoice, the supplier is to provide a full refund*, or change the dates. Please check with your travel provider.

A supplier is saying they will not issue a refund and I have to claim my insurance?
This is an unusual stance for suppliers to take, as they are liable to provide a refund if the customers can not travel and have a holiday protected under PTR. However, we are learning these new procedures every day. Approach this with your travel providers as every booking varies. You may find that suppliers may enforce their Force Majeure clause which will mean they do not have to apply their usual terms as these are circumstances beyond their control.

I’m worried about booking anything for the future
None of us has a crystal ball, so it is really dififcult to predict the future. At some point normality will ensue and people will begin to travel again. The travel industry along with many other industries will be looking for your support to rebuild businesses that are struggling through this. You may not want to book for this summer but it is possible to book for later in the year or 2021. Even though your plans may be delayed you will be helping bolster an industry. When you book for 2021, we would urge you to do that with a trusted travel provider and an agent. Your holiday will then come with various protections in place.

* As this is an unprecedented situation every tour operator is dealing with this differently and we are now finding that some tour operators are directing customers towards their travel insurance provider for a refund of the holiday. Some travel providers may issue a refund, offer to change your holiday or issue a credit note. Please check with your travel provider with specific information relating to your booking. In some cases it may be financially better to defer your holiday to a much later date or for the same time next year and you will have something to look forward too.

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