Travel Advice and our policy on COVID-19 (Coronavirus) (Updated 6 April 2020)
Update on cancellation and refund position with respect to refund credit notes, message from Gavin Bate:
"The regulators have now allowed travel companies to offer refund credit notes to their clients in lieu of cancellation refunds. This does not mean package travel regulations have been suspended or that the law to protect you the consumer has changed, it means that we now have an additional option to offer clients whose trips have been cancelled because of Covid-19.
These refund credit notes are protected by our bonding organisation, which in this case is The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust. Please do read their page to confirm the protection of your money. The credit note is a bit like an IOU and will be for the value of money already paid for the holiday and they will last for one year from the date they are issued. If you don't use the money to re-book your trip within the year then at that time we will provide a refund if you ask for it.
If Adventure Alternative were to go into administration between now and the time you want to go on holiday, or cash in your refund credit note, then I want to reassure you that all client money is held in a secure client account (according to the law). Additionally that money is protected by our bonding arrangement, so your money is safe.
I have always played by the rules with Adventure Alternative, never skirted the law and always respected the trust that we have with you when a booking is made. But there's no doubt at all that this is a tremendously difficult time for us - and all - travel companies. This article by Simon Calder in the Independent describes the scenario facing us and all travel companies who are caught in an impossible situation and regulated by rules that are not designed for these unprecedented times.
I would respectfully ask all of our clients to postpone their trip to a later date or take advantage of this refund credit note scheme, rather than asking for a cash refund. In most cases we have already secured bookings on behalf of clients for which we are not receiving a refund, so it is clearly an unfair situation where we have to give refunds but get none in return.
I am also trying to support my other AA companies in developing countries who have also lost all their income as this global lockdown continues. I have worked with them all for twenty years or so and I must try to help them through this, financially and morally.
The best news I can give them is that all my clients are still 'on the books' for some time in the future, and that this period of limbo will pass and the business will begin again. As Pasang Tendi Sherpa - the man who I have climbed Everest with four times and who manages Adventure Alternative Nepal - said to me last night "Our company is only sleeping, we will soon be awake again and the karma we have had for so many years will bless us all".
The AA office is basically shut now and staff are on furlough, so I will be managing things personally during this period. My aim is really to try and make sure that everyone opts for a postponement or a refund credit note so that I and all my staff around the world can have some hope. I hope you understand and I want to wish all of you the best of luck and calm resolve during this time. At the moment we are all okay and all my staff in Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Borneo, Russia and Morocco are isolating themselves and nobody is ill.
Many thanks in advance for your consideration and compassion.
Previous content from this page:
Practical advice and guidance can be found at the following links:
- The UK Government guidance and latest information on COVID-19
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice
- World Health Organisation. They also publish daily reports here.
- Travel Pro Health website
- ABTA has published a useful page with customer advice on FCO advice and what to expect from tour companies
- The Association of British Insurers has published a page specific to the impact on insurance policies
What are your travel rights regarding insurance?
In general, insurance companies and airlines will take their cue from official UK foreign travel advice. If you go against it, you risk invalidating your insurance policy. Your rights do depend on your choice of airline and the small print of your insurance policy, so make sure to read it carefully.
Your travel rights with tour operators are upheld by the UK Package Travel Regulations which are reflected in the terms and conditions of the company, however in these unprecedented times the PTRs (package travel regulations) are being changed to accommodate additional measures which realistically reflect the impact of coronavirus on the industry. We will update on this situation as soon as the Government legislates on this.
What happens with my travel insurance if I decide to cancel my trip?
If the foreign office website has not issued a warning about the country you are booked to visit, you cannot expect financial compensation if you decide to cancel. Cancellation or travel disruption cover activates when the FCO advises against all travel or all but essential travel to an area.
Travel insurance is not designed to cover 'disinclination to travel' where the FCO advice has not changed to advise against travel. Therefore if you choose not to travel then any refunds or compensation would depend on the company's terms and conditions.
Can I rebook flights and holidays to a later date instead?
Most airlines are allowing passengers to rebook flights or to obtain credit vouchers for use later on. Hotels are also offering the option to rebook. Tour operators also offer the chance to rebook your holiday at a different time at no cost, and we would be one of those companies happy to discuss alternatives if you decide you do not want to travel.
Will my insurance cover me if I miss my flight home because of quarantine?
Being quarantined should fall under the 'disruption to travel' clause in your insurance policy, but do check the policy for criteria relating to this. It also depends on the type of holiday you have booked and the type of insurance you have. For example flight only arrangements will be different to package holidays which include accommodation.Our holidays are sold as land only packages, and most of our clients book flights independently. Do check with the airline what arrangements they are making for this eventuality of being in quarantine, and with your insurance company if you are covered for additional expenses in the event of being quarantined.
What does this mean for my plans to travel abroad?
Many countries are now advising against all but essential travel anywhere in the world until 30th April, and holidays would be regarded as non-essential. Meanwhile new rules on social distancing and self-isolation now mean that travel abroad is highly unlikely for most people until Government advice says differently.
If you are planning a trip for later in the year, don't let Covid-19 disrupt your plans because these travel restrictions cannot be in place forever. We would urge people to wait and see what happens, and postpone your trip until later in the year.