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Holiday refunds – making sure you get yours

Holiday refunds – making sure you get yours

When it comes to claiming a refund for a flight or holiday cancelled because of Covid-19, the law is on your side.

However, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, enforcing your rights is not always straightforward.

The competitions watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has received almost 30,000 complaints since the beginning of March about 'unfair practices' relating to holiday refunds. Most of these have been about airlines or package holiday firms.

Cancelled trips

Since March, the Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to all overseas destinations, although this is likely to change in the coming weeks.

Many airlines and holiday companies have already taken the decision to cancel trips which means, in principle, that you should get a full refund.

Yet this, as many people have found, is proving easier said than done despite the fact that the law is clear and consumer protections set up before Covid-19 remain in place.


Persevering with your claim if you run into difficulties is vital. If necessary, Wards Solicitors can mediate on your behalf to try to resolve your dispute with an airline or travel company without going to court.

Mediation, also known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is often described as a turbo-charged negotiation process actively encouraged by the courts, particularly now as pressure on their time and services mounts.

With modern technology, it can be carried out using secure online video conferencing tools which means safe social distancing rules can be observed.

Here is our advice on what to do in some common scenarios.

My flight has been cancelled

Under EU rules, if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund or an alternative flight to your destination.

As taking an alternative flight is not currently an option, most travellers are choosing a refund which technically should be paid within seven days.

However, some airlines are offering a voucher instead - sometimes, even when the passenger has specifically requested a refund. You are not obliged to accept this.

If you want a refund and can't get a satisfactory response from the airline you booked with, contact us for advice on what you can do next.

My package holiday has been cancelled

If your package holiday is cancelled because of the pandemic, you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days.

This is your right under the Package Travel Regulations 2018 but many tour operators are refusing to give refunds offering instead, a refund credit note sometimes with discount booking incentives.

You are under absolutely no obligation to take this refund credit note and legally, entirely within your rights to insist on a cash refund.

If you can't contact the company you booked with, or are not happy with its response, then contact us for advice about taking the matter further.

Other ways to claim back money

If you paid for your flight or holiday on a debit or credit card, or if the company you booked with has gone out of business, you may be able to claim under:

  • Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if the purchase was between £100 and £30,000 and booked on a credit card;
  • The Chargeback Scheme from individual banks if you booked on a debit card. However, this is discretionary and often time consuming with no guarantee that your card provider will refund you.

Wards Solicitors, one of the top-rated firms in the South West for client service, always encourages ADR wherever appropriate to a case and in the current pandemic is using modern technology to mediate.

Our Legal Guide, Understanding Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, explains the process in more detail.

  • Wards Solicitors' Disputes team is singled out for praise in the independent Legal 500 Guide for 2020. Our lawyers are recommended for their accessibility, empathy, efficiency, expertise and experience.
  • For more information and advice about holiday refunds, please contact specialist Commercial Contract Disputes Solicitor, Richard Darbinian, by email at or by telephoning 0117 929 2811.