The Foreign Office has changed its restrictions to advise against all non-essential travel ‘indefinitely’. The previous travel ban was put in place on 17th March for an initial period of 30 days, but the advice has now been extended with no end date in sight.
In a post shared on Saturday, the FCO wrote: “Travel update: The Foreigh Office indefinitely advises against all non-essential global travel.” Holiday companies are scrambling to reschedule their customers’ bookings, while airlines are offering refunds or flight vouchers for later dates.
We’ve covered what to do if your airline goes bust and how to get a refund if your flight is delayed or cancelled. Here, we talk through your options if your hotel booking is cancelled or if you need to cancel the booking yourself, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
If you are seeking a refund from your accommodation provider, ask them directly before attempting to get compensation from your travel insurer.
When am I entitled to compensation?
If you did not buy travel insurance to cover your hotel booking, it will be a case of contacting the hotel or travel agency you booked with to discuss a refund. If your hotel or travel agent won’t provide a refund or flexible options, call your travel insurance provider to discuss your options.
Thanks to the FCO’s current ban on all but essential international travel, you should be able to claim compensation from most travel insurance policies. Most will cover cancellation for an epidemic or due to Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice, meaning that your hotel booking should be refunded.
That said, every policy is different, so read the small print. If there is no mention of epidemics or FCO advice in the list of things included under cancellation, then there’s a chance that your losses from not travelling will not be covered.
Note that many UK-based travel insurers changed their cover policies in early March to no longer cover COVID-19 related claims. Policies bought after 11 March from AllClear, Axa, InsureandGo and many more will not cover disruptions from the pandemic. Many other insurers like HSBC, Post Office and Direct Line are no longer selling cover at all. A more complete list can be viewed here.
Hotel cancellation policies
Even in normal circumstances, big hotel chains often let you cancel your reservation or reschedule your booking for a future date, generally provided that you give 24 or 48 hours’ notice. However, most big chains are now offering COVID-19-related extended cancellation policies, the details of which can be found on each hotel group’s website.
For example, Hilton has made all reservations (even those described as ‘non-cancellable’) scheduled for arrival before 30 June 2020, cancellable free of charge until 24 hours before arrival. Best Western has announced the same policy for its hotels in Canada, the Caribbean and the US, as has the Hyatt hotel group and Radisson Hotels.
Intercontinental, which owns Holiday Inn, Kimpton, Candlewood Suites and Crowne Plaza, is waiving cancellation fees for all stays in its hotels worldwide that are scheduled for arrival between 9 March and 30 April.
Small-business holiday homes tend to be less flexible than chains in terms of chosen cancellation policies, but in these unprecedented circumstances some family-run businesses are showing more flexibility in order to allow customers to rebook for a future date.
Can I get a refund for my accommodation?
This can depend on whether you’ve booked directly or via an online travel agency. All travel agents have their own cancellation policies, so if you’ve booked with an agency you’ll need to contact them directly to find out whether you’re entitled to a refund.
If you’ve used Booking.com, check whether you selected accommodation with a good cancellation policy. Some bookings can be cancelled free of charge at any time, while others are completely non-refundable.
However, the company has issued a Coronavirus Cancellation Policy to property owners, saying that customer cancellation fees should be waived for bookings affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, and will be covered by Booking.com.
Similarly, Airbnb properties have a range of cancellation policies, ranging from flexible – which offers free cancellation until 14 days before check-in – to super strict, where guests get a 50% refund provided they cancel 60 days before check-in. However, the company has created an extenuating circumstances policy due to the current COVID-19 situation.
Reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date between 14 March 2020 and 31 May 2020, can be cancelled before check-in and guests will be able to choose between travel credit or a full cash refund. However, for reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date after 31 May 2020, the host’s cancellation policy with apply.
This page was last updated on 8 April 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however this cannot be guaranteed.
This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel.