Will Omicron Put A Stop To 2022 Holiday Bookings; Your Rights If This Happens

The COVID variant Omicron is rising, that we are certain of. What we are uncertain of, however, is how this is going to affect travel in the coming months. With the recent introduction of tests regardless of vaccination status for entry to the UK and many countries including Germany, South Africa and Australia tightening their border restrictions going on holiday in 2022 may not be as easy as we initially hoped.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is set to assess the situation but a date for review has not yet been announced. The government has assured the UK that there will not be a lockdown over New Year. On Wednesday 29th December 2022, the World Heath Organisation (WHO) warned that the Omicron Variant, which is highly contagious, is still ‘high risk’ and spreading rapidly. Britain recorded just over 129,000 cases on Tuesday 28th December, but this is just known cases and that number is expected to be considerably higher.

Despite the unknown, travel companies and airlines including TUI and British Airways are storming ahead with their January sales. On the Beach, Travel Republic and Thomas Cook are all advertising cheap all-inclusive holidays for 2022 and Love Holidays is offering up to 40% off 2022 trips with deposits as low as £29pp. In previous years travel agents, tour operators and airlines have seen record-breaking sales over the first weekend in January, deemed Sunshine Saturday, as many of us bag ourselves a bargain for the year ahead.

But with stricter entry requirements and more expensive tests needed for many countries, it is likely we will see these booking numbers drop.

As it stands, travel to and from the UK is still allowed and those willing to tackle travelling to another country in the new year should ensure they are protecting their holiday and the money they have spent. There are several ways to do this.

If your holiday or flight is cancelled by the company you booked through then you will be entitled to a full refund. Booking cancellations by the travel agent or tour operator increased in 2021 as many were forced to cancel plans due to restrictions and falling demand. Many companies are offering vouchers or the option to change travel dates, but you are also entitled to a refund within 7 days for flights and 14 days for package holidays. The high volume of cancellations due to the pandemic may affect refund times.

Those who are unable to get a refund from the company they booked with, may be able to claim the costs back from their bank or credit card provider. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay for something between £100 and £30,000 using a credit card the credit card company is equally liable if something happens and you can claim a chargeback. If you used a debit card your bank will try to reclaim costs, however there is no guarantee.

On the other hand, if Covid cases surge and you no longer wish to travel or your holiday is still going ahead but the country will not let you in the company or airline you have booked with may be able to change your travel date or receive a voucher of the cost of your holiday to use on future bookings. If lockdown restrictions prevent you from travelling, you may be entitled to a full refund as travelling would be against government ruling.

If the above have been unsuccessful, you should check your travel insurance policy. Most travel insurance providers are only covering covid-related claims under certain circumstances, so this is something to check when you are buying a policy. Whilst no travel insurance provider will cover claims where the cost can be recovered elsewhere i.e., through a travel agent or airline, those who have booked independently and have contracted covid or been in close contact with someone and therefore need to isolate may be covered for cancellation. Medical treatment for contracting covid abroad is also covered by most insurers and a few will also cover the costs for you to stay abroad and the associated costs with returning home once you test negative. It Is worth noting, if you travel against the advice of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) then your travel insurance will be void. Disinclination to travel will also not be covered by your travel insurance.

We will, as always, keep you updated with the latest changes and how this will affect your travel but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch and our team will be more than happy to assist [email protected]