Travel expert Simon Calder advised package holidaymakers to keep paying their instalments even if it looks unlikely their trip will go ahead due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Simon took questions from Good Morning Britain viewers who have booked holidays, including one who has a trip due in June and still has an instalment to pay. They asked if they should bother sending their final monthly payment, as it is doubtful their holiday will go ahead in June unless coronavirus restrictions are heavily relaxed.
Simon urged Brits to keep up with their package holiday payments if their trip has not yet been officially cancelled, as otherwise they won’t get their money back in full, if the holiday company ultimately axes the trip due to coronavirus restrictions.
Simon said: “Even if it’s a holiday in June, even if there is unfortunately a low possibility that it will go ahead, if you pay you are guaranteed either a holiday, which will be great, or you will get all your money back.
“If you don’t pay the balance, then I’m afraid you’ll just lose your deposit.”
Another viewer said they have paid for a holiday to Spain in June but do not feel like travelling, even if flights resume.
Independent travel editor Simon said customers won’t be refunded if their trip can go ahead but they opt to stay at home.
He advised: “Well, you’re not going to get a refund if you decide simply not to travel.
“Just to answer the point on paying off the balance, if you can possibly afford to pay it, then please do. Because that way, you’ll either get a great holiday – and we could all do with one of those – or, you’ll get your money back, in full.
“And if you’re in James’ position, where you’ve paid in full for a holiday, it might be going ahead, but you don’t want to go, then again, talk to your travel company – if you can possibly get through to them – and say, ‘look, can I postpone to September, or 2021?’
“If you can’t, and you’ve booked a proper package holiday, then you should be able to transfer it someone else, so you’re not going to lose all your money.
“But I must say, I’m about 50/50, slightly less, that any sensible holidays will be going ahead in June.”
Simon identified five things which need to happen if foreign holidays are to go ahead this summer after a viewer said they’d head tourists will be barred from the Canary Islands in Spain until the autumn.
Simon said: “A whole lot of things need to line up before you, me, or anybody goes on holiday for fun.
“First, you need to be able to get to the airport, which of course you can’t do at the moment of course under lockdown.
“Secondly, the Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel has to be lifted
“The third thing is there needs to be an airline – a holiday company – prepared to take you, we’ve already seen Wizz Air staff in this morning.
“Fourthly, and crucially, the destination country needs to want to let you in. There’s all kinds of rumours about countries not being open until October, I’ve seen absolutely nothing official from the Spanish authorities yet.
“And the fifth one which has just come about, would you be prepared to tolerate any quarantine rules which may come into effect? Which could mean, for instance, that you spend a week on the beach and then you’ve got a fortnight back actually stuck [in quarantine].”
With many holidays already cancelled and more likely to follow, Simon told viewers that quick refunds within 14 days are extremely unlikely.
“It’s most certainly going to take longer, yeah,” said Simon.
“If you look at the Thomas Cook collapse, it took seven months before 99% of those people were paid, and that’s just one company that went bust.
“This is on a far bigger scale, you’ll be waiting more than 14 days. I’m paying refund bingo, I’m owed money by TUI, British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, P&A Cruises. I’m just waiting to get some money back but I fear I could be waiting a long time.”