Package holiday companies with flexible booking policies
Whether it’s test and trace telling you to self-isolate, the country you are travelling to going into lockdown or at the destination making the holiday not worthwhile, there are still lots of reasons why your holiday might not be able to go ahead.
It’s crucial to say that not all flexible booking policies are very flexible. Which? has examined hundreds of policies and found some have restrictions or gaps that will leave you out of pocket when you need to change your trip. Some won’t offer refunds or rebooking even if your destination requires travellers to quarantine. others don’t allow you to rebook if the country goes on the red list, and some won’t let you cancel even if test and trace tell you to self-isolate.
Below we have detailed the policies of providers rated most highly by customers in our annual holiday company survey, along with other large firms you may be considering booking a trip with.
First: a note on cancellations
All travellers have a legal right to a refund within 14 days if their package holiday is cancelled by the tour operator, or if their flights are cancelled by the airline. However, your package holiday provider may not cover you if you cancel the trip – say, if the FCDO has advised against travel to your destination and you aren’t comfortable travelling, or because of local lockdowns.
That’s why it’s crucial that you opt for a company which offers flexibility.
Booking.com* has not set a universal policy for bookings amid coronavirus, and it says individual reservation policies are set by the property you’ve booked. In the table we’ve provided links to all Which? recommended providers.
Which holiday companies offer the greatest flexibility?
When you book with a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) you can be sure that your money is protected when booking a holiday amid Covid-19. That’s because we only allow holiday companies with a fair level of flexibility built into their booking policies to hold WRP status.
Exodus, Explore and Kuoni all offer refunds if they cancel your trip and for all of the scenarios in the above table, with Explore and Kuoni promising to give refunds within 12 and 10 days respectively (the average is 14 days). Speaking of speedy refunds, WRP Trailfinders will process your refund within one day of it being granted; Saga will do so within 2 days, and Riviera within 9.
As WRPs you can also expect a high level of customer service, meaning someone is there to help if your holiday is disrupted,.
Why package holidays offer better protection
We recommend booking a package to protect yourself against changing travel restrictions. Your holiday is likely to be a package if you book more than one part of your holiday, such as flights and accommodation, from one company with one payment. It is always the tour operator that is responsible for your refund or amendment rather than a travel agent you may book through. If you booked a flight as part of the package you will be issued with an Atol certificate, and this will list the tour operator. For those who didn’t book a flight or can’t find their Atol certificate, ask the agent or website you booked with who is responsible for the holiday. If there is any doubt, check with your agent before booking.
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