Some travel firms and airlines are refusing to issue refunds for coronavirus-related cancellations despite their legal obligations to do so, according to the consumer group Which?.
Holidaymakers face losing thousands of pounds due to a breakdown in travel protections amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some being wrongly told that they have to accept a voucher or rebooking at a later date, rather than a refund, Which? has warned.
Which? said it had been inundated with pleas for help from consumers who face losing large sums of money as their requests for refunds had been rejected.
Some customers are facing losing thousands of pounds for cancelled package holidays as the only options being offered are a credit note or rebooking.
The law says you are entitled to a full refund if your package holiday is cancelled because of extraordinary circumstances at the destination, meaning you do not have to accept a credit note, Which? said.
Another issue is that some airlines have not cancelled flights to countries such as Italy and Spain despite the Foreign Office recommending against travelling to these destinations. The current advice on the Foreign Office site advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.
Instead of giving refunds some airlines are offering to rebook passengers on to flights in the future, which in some cases are up to £100 ($117) more expensive.
Other unhappy airline customers have been offered vouchers instead of being refunded, with many complaining they have received no clear guidance from their airline about what the next steps will be.
All flights on EU carriers in or into the EU and all flights leaving from an EU airport are protected by the EU’s Denied Boarding Regulation, which requires refunds or rerouting when flights are cancelled, Which? said.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel magazine, said: “We’ve heard from hundreds of people who face losing large sums of money because their travel plans have been left in tatters or they have been abandoned abroad and face extortionate bills to get home.
“It’s vital that the government, insurers and the travel sector work together to tackle the huge challenge posed by coronavirus, as the travel industry depends on people having confidence that they will be protected in times of crisis.”
Advice on Moneysavingexpert.com said: “We’ve seen that many airlines appear to be offering customers credit vouchers instead of refunds. You don’t have to accept this, and if the airline were to go bust, you may not get your money back.”
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