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Package holidays may offer a tinge of hopeful-holidaymakers eager to jet off after what has been a turbulent year for travel. Yet, as Boris Johnson further tightens travel restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 variants, it means more changes for future holidays.
As a result of hotel quarantine, travel bans and the ongoing UK lockdown, many package holiday operators have cancelled and suspended bookings.
Here are the latest updates from package holiday providers including Jet2 holidays, TUI, easyJet holidays, Thomas Cook, British Airways holidays, and Virgin holidays.
As a result of the ongoing national lockdown, Jet2 holidays released a statement on January 12 further extending its suspension of holidays.
In a statement on its website, the package holiday provider said: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and government travel restrictions, we’ve decided to extend the suspension of all holidays up to and including 25 March 2021.
“Please note, our holidays to Iceland are suspended up to and including 26 April 2021.”
However, at present, the latest hotel quarantine rules have not caused any additional cancellations.
All customers who are impacted by cancellations will automatically be issued with a refund.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have always respected that customers should receive their money back if we have not provided their flight or holiday,” said a Jet2 spokesperson.
However, the holiday firm remains hopeful holidays will be able to go ahead from the end of March.
“For customers due to travel from March 26 onwards, we will provide further updates closer to the time as appropriate,” added the spokesperson.
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easyJet holidays has axed all of its package holidays up to and including March 24.
However, it has not made any further announcements with regards to the latest travel bans and impending hotel quarantine rules which are due to come into force later this month.
easyJet holidays says it is in the process of contacting all customers who are impacted by changed to discuss their options.
Travellers can opt to switch their booking to a new date and destination free of charge.
For those who are not confident in making another booking just yet, the holiday provider is offering an easyJet holidays credit which can be used towards bookings in the future.
Alternatively, would-be holidaymakers can opt for a full refund which the travel firm says are processed “in an average of 12 days.”
Previously, Matt Callaghan, easyJet holidays customer director, said: “We know this news will be disappointing. But we want to give our customers as much flexibility and choice as possible so they can decide what is best for them.
“We’re really proud that, where we’ve needed to cancel holidays, we’ve been able to process refunds in an average of 12 days. We’ll continue to do the right thing for customers.
“And for any customers wanting to change their holiday or make a new booking, we’ve got holidays on sale all the way through to March 2022.
“We know there is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. We can’t wait to take people on well-deserved holidays just as soon as it’s possible for us to do so.”
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The newly relaunched online travel agency has been pushed to axe further holidays as a result of the new hotel quarantine rules launched by the Government.
Last week, Thomas Cook released a statement explaining it would be cancelling further holidays.
Alan French, Thomas Cook’s CEO, said: “We know that our customers want to feel confident they can travel or, if not, that they can get their money back. We want to reassure our customers that we will amend or cancel in full any holiday where the customer has to quarantine in a hotel on their return if they no longer wish to travel.
“While we understand the need to protect the UK from additional strains of the virus, we would encourage the government to be clear how long they expect these measures to be in place and to give the public some idea of how countries will be added or removed from the list.
“We’re all desperate for a break right now and having a holiday to look forward to will go a long way to helping us all get through the mental challenges of the pandemic and help the travel industry focus on rebuilding a future.”
On January 5, TUI made the decision to cancel many of its package holidays due to the third national lockdown.
Since then, no additional changes to its schedule have been announced.
A TUI spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “TUI stopped flying on January 5 when the national lockdown was introduced and therefore no customers will be impacted.”
Holidays due to depart on or before “the end of February” are currently on hold.
Holidays due to depart on or before April 30, 2021, to Goa, India; La Palma, Canary Islands; Phuket, Thailand, The Gambia and Florida are also cancelled.
Customers are being contacted in “departure date order” to discuss what options are available to them.
In a statement on its website, TUI said: “As a result of the latest national lockdown measures announced on 4 January 2021, we’re not able to operate holidays for the moment. Please rest assured, if you were booked to travel with us between now and the end of February, we’ll be contacting you soon to discuss our options. This will be done in departure date order.
“We’d like to extend a personal thank you for your patience and understanding as our customer service and social media teams work around the clock during such an unprecedented time.”
British Airways sells package holiday deals, including flights and hotels, as well as separate flights.
The airline has currently cancelled all of its holiday deals up to and including February 28.
A British Airways spokesperson told Express.co.uk this is “under continual review”, with all “affected customers being contacted and offered a refund.”
They continued: “Holiday bookings can be amended or postponed without a change fee (difference in price may apply), or a voucher can be requested for future use.”
The spokesperson further added: “If we cannot fulfil a holiday, we’re committed to ensuring customers receive a full refund within 14 days. Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their holiday without a change fee, or request a voucher for future use.”
On its website, the airline explains: “If your flight is cancelled, please rest assured that we’ll contact you.
“We’re currently experiencing extremely high call volumes.
“Please don’t call or message unless you’re travelling in the next 72 hours so we can help those needing urgent rebooking.”
British Airways is offering a “Range of flexible options for new and existing bookings” which allow customers to change their date and destination of travel free of charge.
Customers may also select a voucher to use for a later date.
Virgin Atlantic is “continually reviewing” its flying scheduled “taking into account the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential travel.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the airline to find out what impact this will have on its holiday deals.
In a statement on its website, Virgin explains: “We’re keeping a close eye on both travel restrictions and quarantine rules.
“If you’re impacted by changes Virgin Atlantic make to their flying programme, we’ll email you.
“If your holiday is impacted by the ongoing restrictions, we will notify you at least 21 days before your travel date.”
Customers will have the option to rebook holidays at a later date or make changes via the “manage my booking” portal on the website.
Virgin Atlantic adds: “If your trip is going ahead as planned we’ll be sure to give you the latest travel advice and best ways to settle any outstanding balances.”
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