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.
Following changes to international travel restrictions and the opening up of more destinations, we are aware that demand for trips abroad is increasing. However, we encourage people to continue to follow the Government advice, including destination and travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) when 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.
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.
Under UK law, 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.
Please visit: Delays and cancellations | UK Civil Aviation Authority (caa.co.uk) for more information on your rights when a flight is delayed or cancelled, or you are denied boarding.
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.
In July 2020, the ATOL scheme announced that consumers who accepted refund credit notes for cancelled ATOL protected holidays would continue to be covered by the ATOL scheme. This protection applied to refund credit notes issued from 10 March 2020.
From midnight on 19 December 2021, ATOL holders will no longer be able to issue ATOL protected refund credit notes for holidays cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travellers who accepted ATOL protected refund credit notes between 10 March 2020 and 19 December 2021 are unaffected by this change but are reminded to redeem their refund credit notes before 30 September 2022.
Consumers are also reminded that along with redeeming a valid refund credit notes for a new booking, they can request a cash refund at any point.
Refund Credit Notes should:
- be issued by the protecting ATOL holder named on the ATOL certificate
- not exceed the value of payments made towards the ATOL protected booking
- be directly linked to an ATOL protected booking, either shown on the refund credit note directly or in supporting documents
- make clear the total value that will benefit from ATOL protection, excluding payments made separate to the ATOL protected booking or any other incentives offered by the travel company
- make clear it is not transferrable to another individual
- be clear that it can be exchanged with the travel company for cash at any time and no later than 30 September 2022, if not redeemed against a booking
- ATOL protection will not apply to refund credit notes issued to consumers for any value that was originally paid to the ATOL holder by a method of payment not covered by the Air Travel Trust's Payment Policy e.g. the original ATOL protected booking was paid for by a voucher that was issued as compensation or as a prize in a raffle.
- ATOL protection will not apply to any vouchers issued separate to the ATOL protected booking e.g. incentive vouchers offered along with a refund credit note, EU261 compensation, or any extras booked separately to the ATOL protected booking.
- After 30 September 2022, ATOL protection will not apply to refund credit notes, unless they have been redeemed against an ATOL protected booking.
- ATOL protection currently will not apply to refund credit notes issued before 10 March 2020 or after midnight on 19 December 2021.
- ATOL protection will not apply to bookings purchased using a refund credit note, where the booking would not ordinarily benefit from ATOL protection e.g. a refund credit note is used to make an accommodation-only booking
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:
For updates from the UK Civil Aviation Authority and ATOL, follow us on Twitter at: