Consumer group warns about refunds for travellers to amber list destinations

A consumer group says the reopening of international travel is at risk of “descending into farce” as it warned about refunds for amber list destinations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people should only travel to an amber list country “for some extreme circumstance, such as the serious illness of a family member” and not for a holiday.

Passengers arriving from amber list countries are required to self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests.

But the rules have caused confusion, with mixed messaging from ministers adding to the lack of clarity.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said people could go to amber-listed countries to visit family or friends as long as they observed quarantine rules on their return, while Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said “some people might think a holiday is essential” and therefore a valid reason to travel.

Many holiday firms are continuing to sell trips to amber destinations.

However consumer group Which? warned that those who no longer want to take a holiday against Government advice, including those with bookings from last year, were unlikely to secure a refund.

It also warned that insurance at the time of booking might later be voided if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advised against travel to the destination – separate risk advice to the travel traffic light rating.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “The reopening of international travel is at risk of descending into farce with the Government and companies issuing contradictory advice about where travellers can take a holiday.

“The Government is telling people not to travel to amber list destinations, but with many holiday firms selling trips to those countries regardless, people will assume they can.

“Those who feel they can not go on holiday against Government advice, including those with bookings from last year, are also likely to struggle to get their money back, with most travel companies refusing refunds unless the holiday is cancelled.

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“It would be completely unacceptable to see a repeat of last year’s disastrous situation where millions of holidaymakers were forced to foot the bill for travel chaos caused by Covid.

“This year there really is no excuse – the Government and holiday firms must provide clarity over what travel is safe and permitted, and ensure that people who don’t want to travel against Government advice are entitled to a refund.”

Currently firms including Tui, British Airways Holidays, easyJet Holidays, Loveholidays and On The Beach are not refunding customers whose destinations have been added to the amber list.

Trailfinders, however, offers the option of an immediate full refund for customers who have booked a package but within seven days of departure there is FCDO advice against travel, quarantine at either end or the destination moves to the red or amber list.