Which? draws up red list of holiday firms amid Covid travel chaos

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A red list of holiday firms that cannot be relied upon to offer flexible bookings and timely refunds amid the pandemic travel chaos has been identified by Which?

The list of 22 includes travel giants such as Lastminute.com, Love Holidays, On The Beach and Teletext.

Which? based its assessment on whether firms allow flexible booking and offer refunds to those who can’t travel for reasons such as being pinged by the NHS app or a change in Government rules. 

It compared the policies of more than 80 of the UK’s package holiday providers and rated each as Red, Amber, Green or Green+.

Companies that may put customers at risk of being left out of pocket if they are unable to travel were rated as red – as were those that failed to provide clear information. 

While Red companies’ policies were not necessarily in breach of consumer law, some – such as Love Holidays and Teletext – have faced investigations from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the past year.

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Companies that committed to offering refunds in most scenarios – including British Airways Holidays, First Choice, Hays Travel, Jet2 Holidays, Trailfinders and Tui – were rated as green. 

But the Association of Independent Tour Operators’ chairman Chris Rowles demanded a retraction, saying putting firms on a red list amid a pandemic was ‘outrageous’.

The editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, insisted: ‘The difference between choosing a Red company over a Green company could be losing the entire cost of your holiday if circumstances change.’

On The Beach said it was at the mercy of airlines on refunds, adding: ‘We continue to provide customers with as much flexibility as possible.’ 

Love Holidays would only say it offered a ‘Book with Confidence’ promise – including a vow to pay refunds in some circumstances. Lastminute.com and Teletext did not comment.