We book holidays with the best intentions: that we’ll make it to our destination, have a great time and come home again. But things don’t always go as planned. Should you ever need to cancel a flight, or an entire holiday for that matter, here’s what you should know.
Let’s just put it out there: just because you cancel your holiday, does not mean you are entitled to a refund, either partial or whole.
If you’ve either changed your mind about going or there’s an emergency at home that you have to deal with, there are several things you need to do and the sooner you do them, the better. Your right to cancel a trip always depends on the terms and conditions of the holiday or booking contract (yes, all those Ts & Cs we agreed to by ticking that final box before payment). Here’s how to cancel both package holidays and independent travel plans.
How to cancel a package holiday
If you’ve booked a package deal then you only have the right to cancel your trip if the trip organiser has made significant changes to your holiday, making it impossible for you to attend for whatever reason. If this is not the case, then your right to cancel depends on the company’s Terms & Conditions.
Some travel agencies will allow you to cancel but can charge you a cancellation fee (which is sometimes the same amount as the holiday itself). If you know you won’t be going on the trip, get in touch with customer service ASAP as most companies will have a cancellation pay-out scale. This means the earlier they know you won’t be coming, the easier it will be for them to re-sell your trip, which means the better your chances are of getting any refund.
Are you being prevented to travel due to an illness or death of a close relative?
If this is the case and it’s not just a “change of mind” then you could be entitled to transfer the booking to someone else, often for a fee. There is usually a time limit set in your contract and the person receiving the holiday must meet the trip’s requirements (for example, they need to be the right age if it’s a 18-30s holiday).
If this all seems really complicated, get in touch with your travel insurance provider to make a claim.
How to cancel independent travel plans
As with travel agencies, if your airline or hotel doesn’t make any major changes to your booking then you won’t have the right to cancel your trip without having to pay cancellation fees. If this is the case, then start looking at your airline’s cancellation policy either in your ticket’s Ts&Cs or on the airline’s website.
For hotels, the cancellation policy is almost always included in the booking confirmation with an outline of applicable cancellation fees. If your booking agreement has no cancellation policy, you’ll have to cover the loss made by the hotel for your cancellation. If this is the case, get in touch with your travel insurance provider to make a claim.
Travel insurance and Passenger Rights
If you have taken out travel insurance for the holiday in question, you may be in luck. The insurer will only meet a claim however if you have a good reason for the cancellation. This usually means:
- unexpected illness, injury or death of you, your partner or a travelling companion
- if you’re pregnant and have been advised from a medical professional not to travel for a reason which occurred after you took the policy out
- you have been called for jury service or as a witness in court
Our best advice? Read the fine print, get on the phone with your travel agency, hotel and/or airline as soon as you think your travel plans may change and weigh out all the options before making a final decision.
Have you ever needed to cancel a holiday? Tell us all about it!