The 10 largest vacation companies and the 10 largest airlines have all broken the law on refunds for canceled trips during the current pandemic.
Lastminute.com, Loveholidays and Expedia customers have all had to fight to get refunds for canceled holidays. They had to deal with unanswered emails, unanswered phone calls and companies that kept them waiting months to get their money back. Many are still waiting.
These companies now want customers to book with them again. But given that they’ve already broken the law on refunds, there’s every chance they’ll do it again.
Instead, holidaymakers should book with the handful of tour operators and holiday companies that have continued to reimburse customers throughout this crisis.
Which? Travel Brand of the Year Trail seekerswalking and cycling specialists Inntravel and luxury vacation provider Kuoni are among those who have offered passengers cash refunds within 14 days of canceling a package holiday, as required by law. All three are also Which one? Recommended supplier holiday companies.
Find more unbiased travel and coronavirus advice, award-winning investigations and legal advice on holiday refunds and canceled flights with Which? To travel.
Why book a package
As difficult as it has been for customers of some major package tour companies during the pandemic, those who purchased flights and hotels separately have had it even worse.
There’s usually no way to get your money back for a flight if the government suddenly removes a destination from its list of travel corridors. If you are be careful when booking holidays you can always be protected, even in these difficult times.
Specialized and smaller holiday companies are leading the way
We have seen many examples of companies respecting the law and looking after the interests of their customers. All of the following are in accordance with the Package Vacation Regulations. These are just the ones we’ve heard of – there are almost certainly more.
Why ring fenced trust accounts are important
Some companies, such as Trailfinders, place their clients’ money in a separate trust account when they receive it. This meant that when the pandemic hit, it was much easier for them to reimburse customers. It’s also reassuring for customers making new reservations.
Other package tour companies usually use customers’ money to pay airlines long before the flight, which means that if the airlines don’t reimburse, they have a hard time getting the money back.
Which? Commitment of the recommended supplier
The companies mentioned above are those which reimbursed within the framework of the law from the start of the crisis. As many of them are small businesses, they may not feature in our annual holiday business survey, but we are confident they do a great job.
You can also rely on our recommended suppliers. Jet2 has received high praise for its prompt handling of refunds, as has Hays Tourist attractions. Although they have not always refunded within 14 days, they have so far done so more quickly than major competitors and have not tried to impose vouchers or credit notes on customers.
Specialist in guided tours and river cruises Riviera Travel has been quickly reimbursing its customers for a few months, despite problems at the very beginning of the pandemic.
We know this because we’ve surveyed thousands of customers about their experiences getting refunds from over 40 vacation companies. We used this data to inform our annual report best and worst holiday company reviews.
This still rates each vacation company on customer experiences of everything from matching vacations to how they were advertised to customer service, but we also rated each company’s treatment of customers in relation to refunds.
All which? Recommended supplier companies have now pledged to provide cash refunds for canceled holidays within 30 days.
Read the full results of our Best and worst holiday company survey.
How to get a refund if your holiday is canceled
If your flight or vacation package has been cancelled, you do not need to accept a voucher or credit, or rebook. You are legally entitled to a refund.
However, many companies ignore this rule and hope that the government will change the law.
If your tour operator is one of the fair game companies like the ones above, you can help them by choosing to postpone your holiday, rather than take a refund, but you don’t have to.
See our advice on what to do if your travel agency refuses to refund your money.