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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 Darbinian@wards.uk.com or by telephoning 0117 929 2811.

Get in Touch

Request a call back

If you’d prefer us to call you back, just use the form below to give us your number and the best time to call. It would also be useful if you could give us some idea of what you’d like to discuss.


UPDATE October 2020

We have now re-opened our branches to clients but all appointments and visits must be pre-booked to comply with government guidance.

Availability for face-to- face meetings in branches will be limited and remote contact with teams – via phone, email or video call – is preferred wherever possible.  Our prime concern remains the safety of our clients and our staff.

Please note that all visitors to our offices must, by law, wear a face covering.

We cannot accept drop-in visits from clients without an appointment being made in advance. If you have documents for us, including for ID certification, please deliver them to our letterbox

How to get in touch:

  • Please email or telephone your usual lawyer or team, or
  • Please telephone the branch most convenient to you between 9am and 5:30pm, or email info@wards.uk.com at any time and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you.  A list of our 11 branches is available here.

Thank you.

Wards Solicitors LLP