While the worst of the pandemic appears to be over for the UK, the complex international situation means that holidaymakers are still wary of booking ahead.
Responding to customers’ concerns, many leading travel companies – such as TUI, Jet2, and EasyJet – are launching new flexible booking policies.
The UK government is expected to announce details on a restart of holidays abroad in the coming weeks, which will include a confirmed date (May 17 at the earliest) and a traffic light system with countries placed on green, amber or red lists that determine if you need to self-isolate or quarantine back in the UK.
But what if you book a holiday but your situation suddenly changes – either because one of your party falls ill, the pandemic spreads severely in your holiday destination, or changes in the quarantine regulations make your holiday impossible?
Our colleagues at the Mirror have taken a look at the biggest holiday firms' rules on changing your holiday dates and policies on refunds.
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TUI is pretty flexible with its bookings, and in most cases you can rebook to a new holiday for free.
For example, this applies if you/someone in your travel party gets Covid and is required to self-isolate when you're due to depart for your holiday.
If a destination is placed on the amber list (where you need to self-isolate at home in the UK), you can amend your booking for free. This also applies if you book a green list destination but this is later moved to a green watchlist/amber list.
TUI has said it won't offer holidays to red list destinations, so anyone who has a booking will be offered the choice of a full refund or free rebooking.
You can find out more at TUI's site.
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British Airways offers a 'Book With Confidence' policy which lets you change your dates or destination for free.
You can also choose to cancel your holiday and receive a voucher for future trips.
This applies to bookings made on/after March 3, 2020, for journeys that are due to have been completed by 30 April 2022.
You can find out more at the British Airways site.
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Jet2.com and Jet2holidays have currently suspended all flights and holidays until June 23. The company said it would automatically refund affected customers and then get in touch regarding booking their getaway for later in the year.
If you book a holiday but need to self-isolate due to NHS Test and Trace, the company will also let you rebook to a later travel date for free.
There isn't an update yet regarding the green, amber and red lists – Jet2 has said it will wait for the government's update before finalising details.
You can find out more on Jet2's site.
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Thomas Cook, which relaunched last year as an online travel agent, has said that it will allow free amends on bookings that need to be changed for Covid related reasons.
This includes factors like needing to self-isolate because of NHS Test and Trace, if you or someone you travel with gets Covid, or if government rules change and require you to quarantine.
If a destination is on the amber list and requires you to self-isolate at home back in the UK, you can amend your holiday for free.
If a destination requires mandatory hotel quarantine in the UK (aka it's on the red list), and the rules are in place two weeks before you travel, they will let you either cancel with a full refund, or amend your holiday for free.
You can find out more on Thomas Cook's site.
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easyJet recently updated its flexible booking policy for both flights and package holidays.
The airline now lets you change your flight booking free of charge, up to two hours before departure. You'll be able to change to any flight on sale up to September 2022 – and you don't need to stick to the same destination you originally booked.
It has also said that if a country involves mandatory hotel quarantine, you can opt for a refund within four weeks before departure even if your flight is due to go ahead, provided the restriction is still in place.
Alternatively, passengers can choose to transfer their flights to a later date or claim a voucher.
Easyjet has a 'Protection Promise' in place which allows all holidays to be changed for free up to 28 days before travel, as well as free amends if your destination is on the amber list (which means self-isolating at home back in the UK).
You can find out more on easyJet's site.
Ryanair currently allows passengers to make up to two free changes to their flight bookings, provided that the original flights were booked by June 30.
However, you'll need to rebook your travel before October 31, 2021, if you do opt to rebook.
The brand's Zero Change Fee offer is valid on any flights that were booked after June 10, 2020.
You can find out more on Ryanair's site.
Virgin Holidays and Virgin Atlantic allow you to make changes to flights or holiday packages free of charge.
For all flights and holidays up to April 30, 2022, the firm will let you change the dates as often as you want. You'll need to make changes at least three weeks before your original departure date.
New travel dates must be before April 30, 2023. You can also opt for a completely different destination, or make one name change if you'd like to transfer the booking to someone else.
You’ll just need to make sure you travel by April 30, 2023, and make any changes before your original departure date (three weeks before your Virgin Holiday).
You can find out more on Virgin's site.
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