Want flexibility for your holiday booking?

The bleak outlook for the travel industry continues after UK politicians advised against booking foreign holidays this summer. Whilst this will give a welcome boost to UK tourist destinations, us Brits do love a week or two abroad. So what should you do if you want something to look forward to once travel restrictions are lifted?

As mentioned in a previous post, as much as I’d love to get away sooner rather than later, I’ve booked my first foreign trip of 2021 for September. Because I’ve booked the flights with points, I can cancel up to a few days before travel for just a small fee, giving full flexibility.

Haven’t got the points balance, or looking for a traditional package holiday? Below is a brief overview of the current change and cancellation policies for some of the big travel operators so you can lock in a great price – and there are some fantastic deals at the moment – in the knowledge of how much flexibility you’ve got if your plans need to change.

Package Holidays

CompanyChange PolicyCancellation Policy
Tui including flight onlyDate and destination changes are free of charge up to 21 days before departure for;
– Bookings made before 28 February 2021, due to depart before 30 April 2021.
– Bookings made between 22 December 2020 and 28 February 2021, due to depart before 31 October 2021. If your new holiday is more expensive, you will be charged the difference, if it’s cheaper, you’ll get the difference back.
Normal charges apply if you decide to cancel.
Jet2 Holidays including flight onlyNormal charges apply if you decide to change your trip.Normal charges apply if you decide to cancel.
Love HolidaysNormal charges apply if you decide to change your trip.Normal charges apply if you decide to cancel.
Correct at time of writing

Tui will likely cancel your holiday if your destination blocks arrivals from the UK, introduces quarantine or the FCDO advises against travel. The same will apply for Jet2, but Love Holidays won’t cancel your holiday until your airline cancels your flight, and flights can continue to operate even if FCDO advice prevents non-essential travel.

It’s worth mentioning that Jet2 has been the standout winner in how they’ve dealt with the fallout from the pandemic; consistently receiving excellent feedback for proactively cancelling and refunding bookings that couldn’t travel because of restrictions or FCDO advice. Love Holidays did less well and even withdrew from ABTA over their disagreements with ABTA’s guidelines on refunds.

Flight Only

AirlineChange PolicyCancellation Policy
British AirwaysFor new bookings, you can amend your dates or destination without a change fee, but any difference in fare will be charged.For new bookings, you can cancel your booking and receive a refund in the form of a Future Travel Voucher, valid up to April 2022.
RyanairBookings made before 31 January 2021 that travel before 30 September 2021 can be amended up to 7 days before travel without a change fee, but any difference in fare will be charged.Normal charges apply if you decide to cancel.
EasyJetYou can change your dates or destination without a change fee up to 14 days before travel, but any difference in fare will be charged. If quarantine is imposed at your destination within 14 days of travel, you can change your booking without a change fee, but any difference in fare will be charged.Normal charges apply if you decide to cancel.
Correct at time of writing

If you are booking flight & hotel separately, all of the hotel booking sites have filters for free cancellation. I particularly like booking.com as that even has a filter for hotels that don’t need prepayment. Having been burnt last year by a hotel booking site refusing to refund a free cancellation booking (Prestigia, don’t go anywhere near them!), not putting any money down to make the booking could save a huge headache if you do need to cancel.

In my fight with Prestigia, it was my credit card company which refunded me in the end, after I submitted a Section 75 claim. Whoever you book with, at least pay something with a credit card in order to get that bit of extra protection for your money.

The other biggie is insurance. Take it out as soon as you book and make sure to read what is covered.

I’m desperate for travel to return but there’s no point pretending that we’re out of the woods. I suspect we’ll see a summer similar to last year with travel corridor roulette and on/off restrictions. At least by swotting up on flexible change policies, you can have something to look forward to, get a great deal and help secure jobs and livelihoods right the way through the travel supply chain.

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