Travel

Why doesn't British Airways answer the phone? The Holiday Guru tackles Covid-19 traveller issues

The Holiday Guru is always on call to answer your questions. This week many concerned travellers wrote in regarding refund issues involving the likes of British Airways and Tui. The Guru rolled up his sleeves. 

Q. We were due to fly to Canada with British Airways on July 1, but the trip was cancelled. We would like a refund, but are finding it impossible to get one as this can be done only by telephone and we cannot get through. Can you help?

Veronica Edmonds, Hove, East Sussex.

Veronica Edmonds from Hove has found it 'impossible' to get through to BA on the phone for a refund

Veronica Edmonds from Hove has found it 'impossible' to get through to BA on the phone for a refund

Veronica Edmonds from Hove has found it ‘impossible’ to get through to BA on the phone for a refund

A. BA says: ‘There shouldn’t be any issues in getting through, possibly only a short wait.’ But to test the service, we called on 0800 727800 and selected the refund option, only to be told to wait. The line then rang once and a voice said no one was available. Disappointing. However, after our intervention, you have now received a refund.

Q. How can flights to the U.S. be advertised when there are travel restrictions?

Nigel Pownall, via email.

A. Britons may not enter the U.S. if they have been in the UK, Ireland or the Schengen Area (and other countries) in the previous 14 days. However, U.S. citizens, permanent residents and some visa holders (UN staff and other diplomats) are exempt. So flights are going ahead.

Q. In February, I booked a holiday to Dubai for September. If it goes ahead, I will need to have a negative Covid-19 certificate and the appropriate insurance. But as these were not part of the original terms and conditions, am I entitled to a refund?

G. Colson, via email.

A. If you booked a package holiday — flight and accommodation together — and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice remains against all but essential travel (as it is now), your tour operator will cancel and is legally required to provide a refund within 14 days.

However, if the FCO gives the green light to travel and Dubai still has these entry requirements, you would be expected to meet them, even though they were not in the terms and conditions.

Q. My partner and I have booked a holiday to Madeira on September 1. Is it likely to happen?

Neil Chant, via email.

A. As Madeira is exempt from the FCO advice against non-essential travel to Portugal, the holiday should go ahead. However, you must self-isolate for 14 days on your return. You must also provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken less than 72 hours before arrival, or take a test on arrival and wait 12 hours at your accommodation for the result.

Q. We have a Portsmouth to Caen Brittany Ferries crossing booked for September, costing £529. Recently my husband sustained a knee injury and is now awaiting surgery. We are in our 70s, concerned about Covid-19 and would like to cancel, but our tickets are non-refundable. Is there anything we can do?

Sue Brindle, via email.

Brittany Ferries will change a booking for a fee, but you can't get your money back on non-refundable tickets

Brittany Ferries will change a booking for a fee, but you can't get your money back on non-refundable tickets

Brittany Ferries will change a booking for a fee, but you can’t get your money back on non-refundable tickets

A. Yes, you can change your booking for a £20 fee, plus any extra cost if prices go up, for travel until November 2021. A refund is impossible, unfortunately.

Q. I Paid a deposit for a Shearings holiday in June. The firm has since collapsed into administration. How can I get a refund?

Mrs Rosemary Pikett, via email.

A. Those who booked non-flight packages with Shearings can make a claim at submitaclaim.co.uk/shearings or on 01702 840295. See abta.com for further advice.

Q. We are owed £5,173 from Tui and can’t get through to speak to anyone. What can we do?

Mr and Mrs Block, Matlock.

Tui says: 'If a customer’s holiday is cancelled, we will proactively contact them with their credit note voucher plus a 10 per cent booking incentive’

Tui says: 'If a customer’s holiday is cancelled, we will proactively contact them with their credit note voucher plus a 10 per cent booking incentive’

Tui says: ‘If a customer’s holiday is cancelled, we will proactively contact them with their credit note voucher plus a 10 per cent booking incentive’

A. We have had several such enquiries this week. Tui says you should go to tui.co.uk/destinations/info/coronavirus and follow the refund link, which leads to an online form. Fill this in using the Refund Credit number you should have already. Refunds take up to four weeks due to a backlog — though legally they should be made within 14 days of application.

A Tui spokeswoman says: ‘If a customer’s holiday is cancelled, we will proactively contact them with their credit note voucher plus a 10 per cent booking incentive.’

You do not have to accept the voucher, and can claim a cash refund, as described above.

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

The Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email them to: [email protected] — and include your contact details.

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