Coronavirus: Warning Scots will be left 'out of pocket' by Nicola Sturgeon's October holiday travel guidance

CONSUMERS face “losing out” financially by the new Scottish coronavirus restrictions, a consumer organsiation has warned. The response came after Nicola Sturgeon urged Scottish families to not book holidays abroad during the October school holidays. In her address to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the First Minister said Scottish families should treat the autumn term holiday as an opportunity to limit social contact with others.

Speaking of the upcoming school holidays, she said: “Please think of the October break as an opportunity to further limit social interaction. “And, given that this is a global pandemic, please do not book travel overseas for the October break if it is not essential.” But the consumer organisation Which? warned that this is likely to leave Scots out of pocket.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “While the advice for people in Scotland not to book holidays abroad over the October break may be sensible to prevent further spread of the virus, it does not help those who have already booked a holiday, many of whom will have done so several months ago. READ MORE: Coronavirus: Travel operators ‘continue to break law’ over refund failures despite reassurances

“These people face losing out as airlines remain free to ignore the advice and pocket customers’ money.” Recent Which? research revealed that many airlines and tour operators have ‘broken the law’ by not issuing refunds for cancelled trips, despite assuring the aviation regulator that it would sort things out. There are growing concerns that holiday firms have held back billions of pounds in refunds, as they battle with the worst financial crisis their industry has ever faced.

Holiday companies should offer refunds within 14 days while for airlines it is seven days, but many consumers were still waiting for their cash months after trips were cancelled because of the coronavirus. In August the Civil Aviation Authority said it had found airlines had upped their game when it comes to providing refunds following a review of the refund policies and performance of UK airlines and three of the largest international operators to the UK. But the consumer organisation last month found evidence that airlines were “reneging” on promises about how they would improve their refund processes, including from some passengers who have been left out of pocket since March.

Mr Boland said: “There cannot be one rule for holidaymakers and another for airlines.

“If people are being asked not to travel, then airlines should be made to provide rebooking at no additional cost or refund options to their customers, to prevent them from being left out of pocket or putting public health at risk by taking a holiday they can’t afford to cancel.”

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