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.
If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, then you are protected by a European regulation, referred to as EC261.
Under EC261, your airline has a duty of care for you if you were flying out of a UK airport or if you were flying back to a UK airport with a UK or EU airline. If you faced a delay of over two hours, you may be entitled to assistance, potentially including 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.
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.
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 and airlines, the passenger's rights under Regulation EC261/2004 still apply.
Further information can also be found in the Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19.
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.
A number of airlines have published advice on their website for their customers.
Advice from UK airlines can be found below:British Airways Virgin Atlantic Easyjet Jet2 TUI
Advice from non-UK airlines, which are not regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, can be found below:Ryanair Qatar Emirates Aerlingus Singapore Airlines Norwegian Airlines
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 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 December 2020 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:
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.
As travel will still be allowed for certain permitted reasons, it is likely that a refund will depend on the individual consumer's circumstances, and the airline will likely consider this on a case-by-case basis.
If your flight is operating and you are unable to travel due to lockdown measures, you may still 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 Civil Aviation Authority will continue to monitor the refund policies and performance of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic.
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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