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Green list update: How to get a refund if your holiday still isn’t on the list after traffic light review


BRITS hoping for their holiday destinations to be moved onto the green list face having their plans scuppered by the government’s latest travel review.

Malta and Madeira are set to be bumped onto the green list as the government updates its coronavirus traffic light system, which happens every three weeks.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a refund

The Balearic islands of Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca were last night reported to be on the cusp of being added, with a final decision being made later today.

Holidaymakers may be able to avoid quarantine on returning from these destinations when the new travel green list kicks in at 4am next Wednesday.

However, many who rested their hopes on other destinations being moved onto the green list will now need to change their getaway plans if they can’t isolate when they get home. 

The traffic light system has already caused chaos with travellers spending up to £1,000 to get back from Portugal to avoid quarantine when it was suddenly removed from the green list. 

Travel: What are your rights to a refund?

MILLIONS of Brits have had holiday plans cancelled. Here's what to do if you're affected.

Firstly, speak to your airline or holiday firm about a refund or rearranging your plans.

You are entitled to a cash refund if it’s cancelled your holiday but many have large delays processing cash or may offer vouchers instead.

If the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to countries or regions, you may also be covered for cancellations by your travel insurance if the holiday provider or airline is not helping you.

Keep in mind travel insurance must have been taken out before the FCDO advice changed, otherwise you won’t be covered.

If you don’t have travel insurance or the excess on your insurance is so high it’s not worth claiming, you may be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

Debit card claims or credit card claims of under £100 may be covered under similar Chargeback guarantees.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel on Wednesday night cast more uncertainty over European holidays for Brits as she called for all EU countries to introduce mandatory quarantine for those arriving from the UK over delta variant fears.  

There are worries some countries could be moved from amber to red, causing more chaos for travellers.

Here, we take a look refund rights for holidaymakers if their destination remains, or has been moved to, the amber or red list for the next three weeks. 

Can I get a refund if my holiday is cancelled?

If holiday firms cancel your holiday or airlines cancel your flight, you automatically have the legal right to a full refund.

You also should be able to opt for a voucher or the option to rebook it at a later date if you want to. 

But whether holidays are cancelled by travel firms and airlines depends on the advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The Government’s traffic light system indicates what countries it deems safe for Brits to travel to and what processes must be followed upon return.

But the assessed risk factors for travel are different to those of the FCDO – sometimes the FCDO will deem a country safe, even though it’s on the amber list.

And it’s the FCDO advice that holiday firms use to assess whether a holiday can go ahead.

Can I get a refund if I cancel my holiday to avoid quarantine? 

If the FCDO advises that it is still safe to travel to that country – even if the Government keeps your holiday destination on the red or amber list – holiday firms may still deem it possible for you to on your trip.

In this situation, you have no automatic legal right to claim a refund if you cancel your holiday to avoid isolating when you get home.

This is because you’ve decided not to go on holiday, not because the trip has been cancelled by circumstances beyond your control.

“Remember there’s a big difference between a holiday cancellation and simply not being able to go,” said Martyn James, consumer expert at complaints site Resolver.

“There are lots of people who booked holidays last year or moved them forward to this summer on the risk that we would be vaccinated and would be able to travel.

“So this is a risk that has come back and haunted lots of people.”

However, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently made it clear they expect holiday companies and airlines to refund you if you can’t realistically go due to lockdown rules both here and in the country you want to go to.

Yet despite this guidance, Mr James warned that many firms are still being difficult about giving people refunds.

“We have seen companies behaving badly during the pandemic, trying to get out of delivering refunds,” he said. 

“It gets a little bit trickier for those people who took a risk. Holiday companies could say: ‘Well you knew the risk so we aren’t going to give you a refund.’ 

“But these people taking the risk are also the ones keeping the holiday industry alive, so I would still expect them to be offered a refund.”

Mr James said most firms will allow you to move your booking forward in time or will offer a voucher,

He advises those who can no longer go on their trip to ask holiday firms what they can offer instead and to get this in writing. 

If you don’t want to travel anymore, you should be able to get a refund, he said.

Equally, if you opt for a voucher or rebook and you are still unable to travel further down the line, the travel firm should give you a refund in this circumstance too, he said.

Mr James added that when it comes to companies who are still refusing to refund your holiday at this point, you can contact the CMA who will take legal action against them.

Can I get money back on credit card payments?

If you’re struggling to get a refund for a cancelled trip, you may also be able to claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.

If you booked by debit card, you may be able to claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme.

Chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn’t receive.

Claims apply for purchases made by debit card, or by credit card for purchases under £100, and must be done within 120 days of the transaction.

Will my travel insurance cover me?

Consumer group Which? warns not all travel insurance policies offer full cover for holidays that can’t go ahead due to Covid.

For example, they might cover you if you fall ill with coronavirus but not if you’re told to quarantine by NHS Test and Trace when you’re due to depart.

“As a (very) general rule, insurance covers you for unexpected events or things out of your control, not for changing your mind,” said Mr James.

“So if you want to leave a holiday because it looks like the country you are in is going on the red list, you may not be able to claim any costs.”

What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?

  • Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
  • Repatriation service – The costs of getting you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
  • Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
  • Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
  • Delay – You’ll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
  • Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.

This is why it’s important to check the small print before purchasing a policy.

In particular, this will affect countries that the FCDO advises against travelling to.

Heading to these countries against FCDO advice will mean you’re not covered if you have an accident, get ill or lose your luggage when abroad.

You should check your policy and speak to your provider to see where your insurer stands on this.


It comes as travel green list is set to include Malta, Madeira and ‘Balearic Islands’ tody in boost for sun-starved Brits.

Here’s everything you need to know about your holiday refund rights.

Meanwhile, Brits ended up paying up to £1000 to travel home from Portugal in time to avoid quarantine when it was removed from the green list.

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