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Package holiday refunds

Package holiday companies have been instructed to respect the refund rights of holidaymakers ahead of the summer period. In a recent press release, this is what the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said:

The CMA has published a further open letter to the sector and also sent it directly to the 100 package travel firms with the most complaints about them. The letter reminds the firms of their legal obligations and of the need to ensure refund options are clear and accessible.

Since March 2020, the CMA has received over 23,000 complaints from consumers about refund issues relating to package holidays that could not go ahead due to the pandemic. In acknowledgement of this, the recent letter to the package travel sector sets out what businesses should provide and what customers can expect, including:

  • holidays cancelled by package holiday companies must be refunded within 14 days under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
  • any offer of a refund credit note must be accompanied by the option of a full refund. Customers should be able to exchange their credit note for a refund at any time.
  • people have a right to a full refund where they decide to cancel their package because unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances at the destination significantly affect the holiday they have booked or their travel there.
  • if the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) is advising against travel to the package holiday destination when the consumer is due to leave, that is, in the CMA’s view, strong evidence that these unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances are likely to apply. If the consumer is refused a full refund, the package holiday company should fully explain why it disagrees that the holiday or travel is significantly affected.