Thank you for contacting me about package travel holiday refunds.
I know that my colleagues in government recognise the challenges businesses and consumers have faced as a result of cancelled holidays and flights. In the past year, I understand airlines have worked tirelessly to answer the high volume of calls and to process the very high number of applications for refunds.
The Department for Transport is in regular conversation with UK airlines and it is working closely with the sector, the regulator and consumer groups to help ensure airlines deliver on their commitments.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) wrote to UK airlines and some non-EU carriers to emphasise their approach on the issue of refunds and setting out their expectation that airlines make refunds in a reasonable period. I understand that the CAA is routinely reviewing the refund policies and practices of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. While reviewing the policies, the CAA has encouraged airlines to change their processes and practices in order to improve performance in providing refunds which has led to an improved quality of service and performance from most airlines.
Package travel agencies are required to comply with the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, which protect consumers who have purchased a package holiday. Consumers are entitled to a refund if forced to cancel a package holiday due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, which should be issued within 14 days, depending on the contract in place.
The CMA has written guidance on consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds. This guidance is available on the Government’s website. The CMA also established a COVID-19 Taskforce to monitor market developments and identify the problems consumers are facing. The taskforce has focused its attention on three key areas, one of which being holiday cancellations.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly by a business during this pandemic, please do get in touch with the CMA’s coronavirus service at: https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk
I encourage anyone considering booking a future holiday to carefully read the terms and conditions and ensure they are aware of their consumer rights.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.