Small holiday companies pay refunds – while multinationals stall

Independent and smaller travel firms are showing that it is possible to treat customers fairly, even in the current crisis. Which? Travel brand of the year Trailfinders, walking and cycling specialists Inntravel and luxury holiday provider Kuoni are among those who are offering passengers cash refunds within 14 days of package holiday cancellations.

This is in contrast to firms such as Tui, Love Holidays and Virgin Holidays, which are flouting the law. Under the Package Travel Regulations, companies cancelling package holidays are legally obliged to refund passengers within 14 days. That's the case even if it's for reasons beyond their control.

Airlines are also required to provide a refund if they have to cancel your flight, but many such as Ryanair and Air France-KLM are stalling on returning customers' money.

Find more unbiased advice on travel and the coronavirus, award-winning investigations and legal advice on holiday refunds and cancelled flights with Which? Travel. More of your questions answered in our coronavirus travel advice Q&A.

Read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?.

Specialist and smaller holiday firms lead the way

We have seen numerous examples of firms that are abiding by the law and looking after their customers' interests. As well as Trailfinders and Kuoni, all of the following are complying with Package Holiday Regulations. These are just the ones we've heard about - there are almost certainly more.

  • Adventure Creators (Pyrenees specialists)
  • Carrier Travel (Luxury, personalised holidays)
  • Destinology (Luxury package holidays)
  • Discover Egypt & Jordan (Holidays and cruises in Egypt and Jordan)
    Erna Low (French alp ski holidays)
  • Explore Worldwide (Small group, adventure travel)
  • Ffestiniog Travel (Rail holidays)
  • Friendship Travel (Solo travel)
  • Inntravel (Walking and cycling specialists)
  • Journey Latin America (Escorted tours and holidays)
  • Jules Verne (Escorted tours for small groups)
  • Llama Travel (Latin American travel)
  • Much Better Adventures (Small group adventure holidays)
  • Mountain Kingdoms (Walking and trekking)
  • Nuco Travel (Ski holidays)
  • Snow-Wise (Alp ski holidays)
  • Sona Tours (Escorted tours)
  • Sport Options (Sports tour operator)
  • Vivid Travel (Luxury, personalised holidays)

Travel companies under pressure

In many cases, travel companies are struggling to refund as promptly as normal.

Some say this is because they have not yet received money back from airlines and hotels. However, Sam Bruce the founder of ethical travel firm Much Better Adventures, says that its customers have understood the pressure it is under. It has offered a 5% discount to those who choose to rebook and he says that the strategy is working.

'So far 80% of our customers with affected trips have already chosen to postpone the trip rather than cancel,' he says.

How to get a refund if your holiday is cancelled

If your flight or package holiday has been cancelled, you don't have to accept a voucher or credit note, nor do you have to rebook. You are legally entitled to a refund. However many companies are ignoring this rule and hoping that the government will change the law.

If your travel provider is one of the firms that is playing fair, such as those above, you can help them by choosing to postpone your holiday, rather than take a refund, but you're under no obligation to do so.

See our advice on what to do if your travel company is refusing to refund your money.

You may also like...