France is to be added to the UK’s quarantine list from tomorrow morning, it was announced last night. The current government travel advice is as follows: “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to France (including Corsica). “This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks. Check separate travel advice pages for overseas territories of France.
“The FCO is not advising those already travelling in France to leave at this time. You should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect yourself and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
“Contact your travel operator if you have any questions about your return journey.
“If you are returning to the UK from France on or after 15 August, you may need to self-isolate on your return. Check the latest guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“The guidance includes information on the rules if you’re transiting through France from another country to reach the UK.”
Many holidaymakers are likely worried about being left out of pocket as plans are thrown into disarray – what are travellers’ rights to refunds?
Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator from holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket, shared her advice.
“Now that the FCO advice has changed to essential travel only for these countries (France, Malta, Netherlands) if a flight or train (e.g. Eurostar) or ferry is cancelled as a result, you are legally entitled under EU 261 to your money back within seven days,” she explained.
“However, your flight or train may still go ahead despite the FCO rule change.
“Transport providers are allowed to keep operating for people who still want to travel.
“You will need to look to change your journey to a different future date, when you can hope that the rules will have changed (see below for more info on this).
“If you had travel insurance in place before the pandemic became a known event back in mid-March or you have had an annual policy in place pre mid-March which was automatically renewed, then you might be covered.”
As for individual airlines, easyJet is operating its full schedule so customers won’t be able to claim a refund.
They can change their flight for free but will have to pay the fare difference for the new dates.
British Airways is also continuing flights. Fliers cannot claim a refund if the flight isn’t cancelled but they can change their booking or take a future travel voucher for free.
Ryanair is also not issuing refunds and rebooking comes with a sizeable fee.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, has urged the government to push airlines to refund during these difficult times.
He said: “It’s understandable that the government wants to restrict travel to these countries at this time, but the burden of this decision disproportionately falls on holidaymakers – thousands of whom are likely to be left significantly out of pocket because their airline will refuse to refund them.
“Unlike tour operators, airlines now routinely ignore FCO travel warnings and refuse refunds because, they argue, the flight is still operating. Some major airlines, like Ryanair, won’t even allow customers to rebook without charging a hefty fee.
“The government wants us to act responsibly and not travel to countries with an FCO warning, but it needs to make it clear to airlines that they too need to act responsibly and not ignore government travel advice in an effort to pocket customer cash.”