Holidaymakers face tough choice over Italy travel ban

Thousands of holidaymakers face losing money if they adhere to official travel advice to avoid Italy because of the coronavirus.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising against all but essential travel to the entire country.

Many flights between the UK and Italy have been cancelled but others are continuing to operate.

Customers on some airlines who have not booked a package trip, bought travel insurance or had their flight cancelled face a choice between either travelling against FCO advice or staying at home and losing their air fare.

EasyJet has grounded most of its flights to and from northern Italy but is continuing to serve locations such as Milan, Venice and Bologna.

It is advising customers who do not want to fly that they would only be due a refund of “any government tax you may have paid”.

Ryanair is telling customers whose flights are running that “the no cancellation and no refund policy remains”.

British Airways is allowing passengers booked to travel on flights to and from northern Italy up to April 4 to change travel dates or obtain a refund.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Anyone imminently due to visit Italy on a package holiday should be offered alternative arrangements by their travel provider and a full refund if there are no suitable options.

If a tour operator refuses, customers may be entitled to compensation under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 regulations.

Travel trade organisation Abta said “it is too early” to say that summer holidays cannot go ahead as planned.

“If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges,” it added.

.@FCOtravel now advises against all but essential travel to parts of Northern #Italy due to #coronavirus. ABTA continues to update its website for customers, find out more at: https://t.co/oUB4MNmrNA

— ABTA (@ABTAtravel) March 8, 2020

Anyone who has booked flights or accommodation directly should contact their airline and accommodation provider to see what flexibility they are offering.

They should also check their travel insurance as it may cover non-refundable cancellation costs for trips to areas where the FCO is advising against all but essential travel.

The Government advice for anyone returning to the UK from Italy in the last 14 days is to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, even if they do not have symptoms of the coronavirus.

Approximately three million British nationals visit Italy every year.

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