23 Apr 2020
Kit Williams by Kit Williams

I’m writing this at the end of a sunny Easter weekend when the lock-down makes my wanderlust that much more intense.

Unsurprisingly, I have holidays booked for this summer but the current circumstances surrounding travel at home and overseas prompt lots of questions and I imagine the majority of readers will be in a similar situation. I’m not offering legal advice here, merely my reflections on the state of play.

We are living in confusing times and for anyone with travel plans or involved with the travel industry it is a challenge to keep on top of what’s going on and understand what it means.

The Foreign Office (FCO) now advises against all but essential travel for an indefinite period. There is now no date for the industry to work to and in some cases a lack of consistency. Your rights haven’t changed, though.

What are your rights if your holiday has been cancelled?

The Package Travel Regulations (2018) cover you for a package (e.g. flights and accommodation) if the organiser fails, or if they can’t deliver what you booked. You are legally entitled to:

  • An alternative and equivalent holiday at a later date, or
  • A full refund within 14 days.

However, this timescale is not currently achievable because of the sheer numbers involved and would threaten the existence of many, many excellent travel companies. Most are therefore offering a fully protected refund credit note instead, with the right to a refund at a later date if not used to book a holiday by that date.

ATOL Protection only covers a flight-inclusive package when the ATOL holder or the airline fails (EU/UK departures or airlines only). You will have an ATOL Certificate if your holiday is protected this way.

Flight or hotel booked separately

  • Flights – not usually ATOL protected on their own but EU rules say you should have either a fee free amendment or a refund, currently usually offered by UK airlines as a refund credit note, or a cash refund in some cases.
  • Hotels – depends on the hotel’s Terms and Conditions.
  • Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act may offer some protection if you have paid by Credit Card.

Covered by Insurance? It depends – that’s not helpful, I know, but you have to check your documentation and speak to your insurers as there are so many factors at play.

You can find more detailed information on the ATOL and ABTA websites here:

Response times are understandably but frustratingly slow because of the number or cancellations the organisations are having to work through, but please be patient and kind. Everyone is doing their best but has increasing numbers of affected bookings and they are working through in date order.

There are a thousand and one questions to answer, and every individual is in a different situation.  Please do feel free to get in touch with your questions, however you made your travel arrangements. We have already rearranged or booked new holidays to 2021 and 2020, arranged Refund Credit Notes where appropriate or cash refunds where that makes the most sense.

We would encourage you to consider a Refund Credit Note if you’re not comfortable to rebook at this time, as it will help support the travel industry so that you are able to travel again when the time is right.

We are of course very happy to help make sense of your position where we can whether or not you booked through Silver Compass. You can use our contact form on this website, phone 01225 744992 or email info@silvercompass.co.uk.