How to untangle your travel plans if you have Covid before Christmas

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I remain optimistic that we will find a way out of this mess and be able to travel relatively normally again in no time. But there is no escape: the chances of you or someone in your family contracting Covid by Christmas seem higher than ever. And if any of us get a positive test from that moment on, our holiday plans, and any trips we have arranged, will almost certainly be ruined. So how do you get rid of clutter you don’t need?

Holidays in the UK

Your rights will depend on what you agreed to when you booked the hotel or cottage where you are staying, as well as whether the government councils change between that time and the time you have to cancel. If you have booked a hotel directly, you may be relying on your goodwill to see if it will allow you to postpone your booking or offer a refund. You will be in a similar situation if you have booked a country house or self-catering accommodation directly.

However, many agencies and websites offer some protection, as long as you can provide evidence that you, or one of your groups, had a positive PCR test shortly before departure. For example, the booking terms of holidaycottages.co.uk state that if you contact customer service in this situation, they will offer you the option to choose a deferral, a voucher or a cash refund, or a transfer. free to one of your friends. In the meantime, the Airbnb policy (airbnb.co.uk) allows you to cancel and receive a refund in accordance with its mitigating circumstances policy; see details online.

Conversely, if the government decides to tighten the restrictions in the days leading up to Christmas and requires hotels or holiday accommodation to close, your booking must be canceled and you will be legally entitled to a cash refund.

Holidays abroad

Many travel insurance policies now cover cancellation costs if you can prove that you have fallen ill with Covid and cannot travel as a result. Last week, I mentioned some of the most comprehensive policies, which also cover you if you have to isolate yourself abroad because you didn’t pass a pre-departure test: PJ Hayman (pjhayman.com), AllClear (allcleartravel). co.uk), Staysure (staysure.co.uk) and also Trailfinders (trailfinders.com/insurance). Check coverage before you buy – there is no guarantee of how long insurers will continue with this coverage for new policies.

For those who are uninsured, most airlines and tour operators also offer great flexibility. You probably won’t be able to cancel to get a refund, but you can usually postpone your trip. Those who have booked accommodation privately will depend on the goodwill of the hotelier or village owner.

If the restrictions prevent you from traveling (for example, the ban on British tourists in France), tour operators will be required to reimburse you. Airlines will also reimburse you if you cancel a flight, but if the flight works you will probably only be offered a voucher or deferral.

If you are nervous but not sick

It is very unlikely that you will be able to get a refund under these circumstances, although you can still take advantage of the flexibility offered by the travel companies I just mentioned. In any case, if you decide to change your holiday plans, always contact your holiday company or airline before taking any action. If you cancel unilaterally, you will almost certainly not be entitled to a refund.


If you have a problem with your vacation or travel, please contact our troubleshooter, Gill Charlton, or our consumer expert, Nick Trend, at the following email address. We also have over 150 destination experts around the world who can help you with great tips on where to stay, eat and visit. Please send an e-mail to asktheexperts@telegraph.co.uk with your full name and, if your inquiry is about a dispute with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. . We’re sorry we can’t answer all your questions in person, but your email will be acknowledged. Alternatively, leave a comment below.

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