Families urged to books trips using vouchers for Covid cancellations

Families are urged to books trips using vouchers for holidays cancelled during Covid pandemic as it emerges £85m worth of credit has still not been used

  • Over £84million of unspent vouchers issued during Covid are still outstanding
  • Customers are being urged to spend the vouchers or risk losing hundreds
  • The CAA believes many have forgotten because of multiple trip cancellations 

Holidaymakers are being urged to use £85million worth of unspent travel vouchers for trips cancelled during the pandemic or risk losing their money.

The Civil Aviation Authority believes many might have forgotten they have the vouchers if their holiday was cancelled multiple times.

Others may still be putting trips off over fears that Covid travel curbs could be reimposed or because the destination they want to visit hasn’t yet lifted restrictions.

Usually when a package holiday is cancelled, operators must refund customers within 14 days.

The Civil Aviation Authority believes many might have forgotten they have the vouchers if their holiday was cancelled multiple times

But amid fears that many firms could go bust if they had to pay out during the pandemic, thousands of customers were pushed to accept credit notes instead.

The vouchers were covered under the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol) scheme, which ensures package holiday customers do not lose out if their firm goes under.

But this protection expires on September 30 and the aviation watchdog is urging travellers to use the vouchers before then.

The protection guarantees that the CAA will foot the bill to get holidaymakers home if their operator goes bust while they are abroad. The scheme also refunds travellers for future holidays that can’t go ahead because their operator collapses.

Customers therefore risk losing their money if they use the vouchers to book a holiday after September 30 and their operator goes bust before their departure date.

With operators having racked up billions in debt during the pandemic and been pushed to the brink, the CAA says travellers should not risk going abroad without the Atol protection. About 85,000 holidaymakers have vouchers issued by their operator for trips that couldn’t go ahead during the pandemic, according to figures obtained by the Mail.

They are worth the value of the trip originally booked and can be used to rebook a holiday for a future date. They can also still be traded for a cash refund.

The Atol protection on vouchers issued between March 10, 2020 and December 19, 2021 originally expired at the end of last year but was extended until September.

Those who need to renew their passports before a holiday this summer should apply to do so ‘as soon as possible’, Home Office minister Kevin Foster told MPs.

Amid huge backlogs in the Passport Office, he said in the Commons the Government had no intention of letting the current ten-week processing time slide further.

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