Will my Spain holiday go ahead? Refunds and cancellations Q&A – Which? News

Less than three weeks after holidays in Spain were given the go-ahead, the government is again warning against non-essential travel to mainland Spain, and has  reintroduced the requirement for travellers returning from anywhere in Spain to quarantine for 14 days. With the school summer holidays only just underway, it means tens of thousands of holidaymakers already in Spain will need to quarantine on their return to the UK.  Those with package holidays booked to go to mainland Spain, including customers of Tui and Jet2 Holidays, will have their holidays cancelled and will have the right to a refund. The situation with holidays to the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands is more complicated.

The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has warned against non-essential travel to mainland Spain but not the islands. That means many holidays will go ahead. If you don't want to travel because of the requirement to quarantine on your return, you'll be reliant on the booking conditions of your tour operator.

Airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have said they will continue to fly to Spain. Hotels remain open. If you have booked flights and accommodation separately, rather than as part of package, it's unlikely you'll be able to get a refund.

You may be able to rebook, depending on the terms and conditions of the airline and hotel. Below you'll find a full Q&A on flight, holiday and hotel bookings.

Find more unbiased advice on travel and coronavirus, award-winning investigations and legal advice on holiday refunds and cancelled flights with Which? Travel

What's happening in Spain?

Barcelona has already introduced a partial, voluntary lockdown, while some smaller towns, such as Totana in Murcia have returned to a phase one government lockdown, which includes limits on travel and gatherings.

France is considering closing its border with Spain. Figures from the World Health Organisation show that new confirmed cases almost doubled from 6 July to 13 July, when there were more than 9,000 across the whole of Spain. There were an additional 1,904 new cases last Friday - the highest figure since late April - and 1,358 more on Monday.

While the vast majority of Spain's coronavirus cases are on the mainland, centred in and around Barcelona, a British tourist tested positive for the virus in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands this week.

I'm already in Spain. Do I need to return to the UK early?

No. The government has said that holidays don't need to be cut short.

It is already too late to return home ahead of the imposition of the quarantine rules. The FCO warning against non-essential travel to mainland Spain will invalidate the travel insurance of anyone who travels to Spain in future. However, if you travelled to Spain before the warning was announced on 25 July, your insurance will remain valid.

Unfortunately travel insurance policies will not cover you for the 14 days you are required to quarantine on return to the UK.

Will Tui, easyJet Holidays and other package holidays to Spain be cancelled? 

Yes. Tui has said it will cancel all package holidays to mainland Spain (see Canaries and Balearics below) up until 9 August. EasyJet Holidays had not yet restarted its package holidays, and has now said it will cancel all trips until 16 August. 

It's crucial you wait for the holiday company to cancel to claim a refund. Don't cancel the holiday yourself. You'll be entitled to choose between rebooking or a cash refund.  If you have holidays booked after the dates above, the best advice is to wait.

If the FCO warning remains the same, the tour operators will cancel on a rolling basis. You will be helping the tour operator by accepting rebooking or a refund credit note, as holiday companies are under significant financial strain, but it's important to be aware of the drawbacks, such as higher prices in 2021 when you may want to rebook. You have the legal right to a cash refund within 14 days, although some operators continue to delay and deny refund requests. 

Online travel agents (OTAs), where you pick a hotel and flight to create a package may not cancel. However, the Package Travel Regulations allow you to claim a refund for any trip to a destination that has an FCO warning against it. Many OTAs have proved difficult to contact in recent months, but it's essential you get in touch with them to ensure you have a package and confirm your refund rights. 

What about Jet2 Holidays to Spain?

After initially suggestion holidays to Spain would go ahead, despite the FCO warning, Jet 2 Holidays has cancelled all mainland holidays to Spain until 16 August.

It has also suggested that customers due to return from mainland Spain after 16 August may need to return earlier. It has said it will contact customers to discuss options. Jet 2 Holidays to the Canary Islands and Balearics are continuing to operate.

What about holidays to the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands?

While the requirement to quarantine when returning to the UK applies to all destinations in Spain, the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa) and Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are exempt from the FCO advice against all non-essential travel.

That makes the situation with package holidays more complicated. The FCO warning requires operators to cancel, the quarantine exemption doesn't. Some operators may not cancel and will refuse to offer a refund to customers who don't want to travel.

Many holiday companies have introduced flexible rebooking policies, so you may instead be able to claim a voucher or move your booking to a later date.

What about my Ryanair/Easyjet/British Airways or Jet2 flight to Spain?

All four airlines have said they will continue to fly to Spain, despite the FCO warning and quarantine rules. If your flight isn't cancelled, you won't be able to claim a refund. Easyjet will allow customers that no longer wish to travel to change flights without a fee, although you will have to pay the fare difference, or receive a voucher for the value of your booking. BA allows customers who booked from 3 March to cancel up to the day of departure and receive a voucher for the full cost.

Ryanair has waived its fee for flight changes on all bookings for July and August made since 10 June and for September since 17 July, but for all other bookings it insists standard terms and conditions apply. That means paying a fee to rebook, and the fare difference. Passengers who booked since 10 June will need to change the date of their flights at least seven days before the original date of departure to avoid paying a fee.

Flights can only be moved to dates up until the end of December.  Jet2 airline customers have told Which? that it is allowing passengers who don't want to travel the option to rebook or claim a refund.   Very few travel insurance policies will offer cover you if you decide not to fly.

What about hotel bookings?

Hotels in Spain will remain open, meaning you won't be able to claim a refund.

If you want to cancel, you'll have to check the T&Cs of your booking. Some online booking websites such as Booking.com and Airbnb, do offer last-minute cancellation on some listings. You're unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance if you bought your policy after 10 March when most insurers removed cover for COVID-19-related cancellations.

If the hotel is ordered to close as part of a government enforced lockdown, you're entitled to a refund for any unused nights. 

What happens if Spain announces local/regional lockdowns?

If you're travelling to an area affected by an official government lockdown, your tour operator will cancel the holiday, in which case you'll be entitled to a full refund. Some holiday companies have said they will bring clients home early if the lockdown happens mid-holiday, in which case the Package Travel Regulations stipulate that you'd be entitled to a pro-rata refund for any unused days. You won't be required to come home early in the case of voluntary lockdowns, like the one in Barcelona.

But nor will you be able to claim a refund if you don't want to travel.

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