References to EU regulation or EU websites in our guidance will not be an accurate description of your obligations or rights under UK law.read more
The UK Civil Aviation Authority understands the acute impact that Coronavirus is having on the industry, as well as those with upcoming travel plans.
The information below is for passengers and holidaymakers. Please check this page regularly for any changes in our advice.
Travel advice from the Government is available at gov.uk.
For advice on pre-departure testing, please click here for Government advice.
If you are no longer able to travel due to national restrictions on movement in the UK, you should contact your airline in the first instance to discuss your options.
If your flight is operating and you are unable to travel due to lockdown measures, you are likely to be entitled to a refund. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its views on the law in relation to cancellations and refunds during the pandemic. Click here for more information from the CMA.
The CMA has launched an investigation into whether airlines have breached consumer's legal rights by failing to offer cash refunds for flights they could not take. The Civil Aviation Authority will be working closely with the CMA on this investigation.
The Government's roadmap out of lockdown has indicated that trips abroad (in addition to the limited permitted purposes for such trips at the moment) may be permitted from at the earliest 17 May. We understand that consumers may want to consider booking holidays and trips abroad at this time, but we would encourage people to continue to follow the Government advice in making their decisions. Consumers should also consider what measures they have in place to protect their finances and booking should any restrictions cause a cancellation of their flights or accommodation.
Consumers looking to book flights and holidays are advised to take out travel insurance, to pay on credit card where possible, and to consider booking an ATOL protected package if they are planning a holiday.
Cancellation and delays - passenger rights
If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, then you are protected by UK law.
This includes the provision of food and drink, as well as accommodation if a delay continues overnight.
If your flight has been cancelled, then your airline should offer you the choice of a full refund or alternative flights. Under the current situation, alternative flights may not be practical to organise, for example where government advice is to avoid travel to particular destinations. A refund may therefore be the only option available for you.
Speak to your airline for further assistance.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office / Government travel advice
Government guidance over restrictions and foreign travel advice is available on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website.
If the Government has advised against all but essential travel to your destination, your airline will likely cancel your flight and offer a full refund. If you are due to travel imminently and your flight has not been cancelled, check the airline website before contacting the airline. If the airline has confirmed that your flight will go ahead, they may still be able to offer a refund, allow you to change your booking to a later date, or your travel insurance may be able to provide assistance.
The Government's travel advice may be subject to change, potentially at short notice. This may include the requirement for passengers arriving from certain destinations to quarantine themselves for a period of time. If this requirement has an impact on your travel plans which means you no longer wish to travel, please speak to your airline who may be able to rebook your flight and may offer you a refund.
We are aware that some airlines and travel providers are offering vouchers in place of refunds. If your flight has been cancelled, you are entitled to a refund, so if you would rather the financial payment, please request this from your travel provider. Please allow additional time over the holiday period for the airline to process your refund.
If you believe you are entitled to receive a refund from your airline but they are refusing, you may wish to open a complaint with the airline.
Travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the spread of COVID-19 have led to a significant number of flight cancellations.
While we recognise that this is a very challenging time for both passengers rights still apply.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been pro-actively reviewing flights cancelled since March 2020 to consider whether they were due to COVID-19.
Please see our passenger rights information for details of the flights that have been reviewed.
In some cases, airlines may be able to continue operating flights, however, there may be restrictions on whether passengers can travel into or out of a particular country.
For further information on individual destinations, please visit the Foreign, Development and Commonwealth Office website for travel advice.
We would not expect airlines to board passengers for their original departing flight where:
Where passengers have already landed in the UK but are not able to take their onward flight due to a flight ban, we would expect airlines to offer passengers an alternative routing to their final destination, where this is possible in light of the flight bans. Where an alternative routing is possible, we would expect the airline operating the onward flight to provide care and assistance in line with Regulation EC261.
We would expect airlines to offer a return flight to their original destination where:
Passengers whose original departing point was outside the EU, and whose airline is not an EU carrier, are advised to contact the airline with which they booked the flight for advice on their options. Passengers may also wish to contact the airline operating their onward flight that was cancelled as a result of a flight ban.
As a result of increasing instances of COVID-19 around the world, including the emergence of new variants, the UK Government is now taking additional steps to add a further layer of protection to safeguard public health. Passengers travelling to any nation within the United Kingdom from outside of the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Republic of Ireland must possess proof of a qualifying negative COVID-19 test taken up to three days prior to departure of the passenger's flight.
If you do not have proof of a qualifying negative COVID-19 test within this timeframe, and if you do not qualify for one of the limited number of exemptions to the pre-departure testing requirement or have a reasonable excuse, your airline will deny you boarding to your flight. EC Regulation 261/2004 on denied boarding compensation and assistance, does not cover circumstances where there are reasonable grounds to deny boarding, including reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation. In the view of the CAA, the failure of a passenger to comply with the pre-departure testing requirement would, for health reasons, constitute a reasonable ground for the airline to deny boarding, and therefore the passenger would not be entitled to the rights under EC Regulation 261/2004.
If you are denied boarding because you don't have a qualifying negative COVID-19 test, or your negative test comes in too late to travel, airlines may rebook you according to the terms and conditions of your ticket, but you will not be able to claim compensation for denied boarding under EC Regulation 261/2004. You will also not be entitled to the rights under EC261 to a refund for the cost of your flight, re-routing, or care and assistance. In cases of denied boarding, please contact your airline for further advice about your options. British nationals that need consular assistance should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.
If you have a qualifying COVID-19 test but your flight has been cancelled, then your airline should offer you the choice of a full refund or alternative flights. However, airlines are not obliged to cover the cost of your test. You may wish to contact your travel insurance provider.
Under EC261, consumers can receive compensation for cancellations made within 14 days of your booking date. However, this regulation does not apply where the cancellation is an 'extraordinary circumstance', outside of your airline's control.
Where the Government is advising against travel to a destination or a local lockdown has been put in place, we consider that this would be viewed as an 'extraordinary circumstance' and compensation would not be payable. Cancellations related to coronavirus in other circumstances (e.g. where there is no advice against travel) would need to be considered on their merits and facts. However, decisions by authorities to close airspace, restrict airline operations or place restrictions on passengers are likely to be an extraordinary circumstance. Cancellations due to the economic and environmental consequences of operating flights with only a few passengers on-board may also be considered to be an extraordinary circumstance, for example where the imposition of quarantine requirements significantly impacts demand.
Please note that If your flight is cancelled, you will always be due a refund and to be provided with assistance, even if you are not due further compensation.
If you are booked on a package holiday or cruise package, where you have paid for flights and accommodation or cruise (potentially including other elements such as car hire), then your holiday is protected under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
Under the PTRs, if any element of your package holiday or cruise package is cancelled or significantly changed, then you have the right to request a full refund of any payments made towards your holiday. Your travel company may offer you vouchers to be redeemed against a future booking, however you are entitled to request a full cash refund if you do not wish to accept vouchers. Alternatively, you can speak to your travel agent to try and organise alternative travel, though this may be difficult in the current circumstances.
If you are due to leave for a package holiday imminently to a destination where the Foreign Office has advised against travel, the Competition and Markets Authority has published guidance for consumers setting out its view that under the Package Travel Regulations you have the right to request the cancellation of your booking and choose an alternative package or receive a full refund of any payments you have made to date.
If your booking is ATOL protected, please be aware that the company named on your ATOL certificate, under the “Who is protecting your trip?” section of your ATOL certificate, is responsible for your booking, including any refunds or amendments. Please speak to your travel agent or package provider for further assistance as ATOL is only able to offer assistance if your travel company ceases trading.
If you have been promised but have not yet received a refund for any payments made towards your ATOL protected booking, you will only be able to submit an ATOL claim for these payments if the company providing your ATOL protection were to cease trading.
Refund credit notes will benefit from ATOL protection up until 30 September 2021 if they have been issued between 10 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 for an ATOL protected booking that has been cancelled due to Covid-19.
While offering consumers a refund credit note is acceptable, travel companies must offer a cash refund at the same time. If the consumer chooses a refund credit note, they should have the option to convert it to a cash refund at any point and must do so before 30 September 2021.
Consumers should keep all the original documentation for their ATOL protected booking, including the original ATOL certificate, proof of payment and the booking documents.
There are other conditions which a refund credit note must meet in order to benefit from ATOL protection. If consumers are concerned that a refund credit note they have received does not meet the criteria to be ATOL protected, they should contact their travel company.
Refund Credit Notes should:
For advice on travel destinations, please visit: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
For further European airline advice, please visit: www.easa.europa.eu/
For further information for cruise passengers, please visit: www.cruiseexperts.org/
For further information on package holidays and cruise packages, please visit:
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