Britons flying to and holidaying in Spain: what are your rights?

I’m due to travel this week – what happens if I cancel?

This is the dilemma facing thousands of families. The situation is complicated by the fact that the UK government is only advising against non-essential travel to mainland Spain. This means that many people could still fly to to the Balearic or Canary islands and carry on their holiday as planned.

They would, however, have to quarantine for 14 days along with everyone else returning from anywhere in Spain.

Those with package tours booked to mainland Spain are likely to be covered as the tour operator will almost certainly have to cancel the trip in the face of the new Foreign Office rules.

Tui has started doing this and other operators will probably follow. Where the tour operator cancels, holidaymakers are entitled to ask for a full refund.

Many of those with holidays to the islands, which have not been cancelled, will find themselves unable to take those trips because of the requirement for quarantine on their return. If the holidaymaker cancels, there is no refund. Tour operators will in many cases offer the chance to switch the booking to a later date, but they do not have to.

Will my travel insurance step in?

Possibly. Originally, insurers were not offering cancellation cover to those who bought their holiday and travel insurance before Covid-19 became a known issue (about 23 March).

If you booked the trip or bought the insurance after March you may be covered provided there were no restrictions in place when you bought the cover. Policies should pay your Spanish mainland cancellation claim now that the Foreign Office has advised against travel.

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Some big insurers changed their terms and conditions to remove cancellation cover or stopped selling new policies. Check your insurer’s website for the latest position.

Tourists walk at Magaluf beach, Calvia, in Majorca.

Magaluf beach in Mallorca. British tourists cancelling trips to the island will generally be unable to claim on their travel insurance. Photograph: Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty

But I’m going to Mallorca – am I covered?

No. If the holiday goes ahead but you decide to cancel because you can’t quarantine when you get back, travel insurance tends not to pay out in such circumstances. A few of the more expensive policies will cover cancellations caused by the imposition of a quarantine, so check the small print.

Tour operators may choose to offer those cancelling vouchers to the value of the trip but again, there is no obligation to do so.

I put together my own trip – how am I placed?

Most of the airlines have said they will operate flights to Spain as scheduled so if your flight takes off without you, it’s tough. EasyJet is offering travellers the chance to cancel and switch to a voucher, but rivals including BA and Ryanair are not.

Accommodation providers are under no obligation to refund, unless it was part of the original terms and conditions. Some hotels did offer cancellations to encourage bookings, so check the reservation terms.

Airbnb is allowing those who booked their trip before 14 March the option to cancel trips up to the end of August if “the pandemic is preventing you from completing your reservation”. Its standard cancellation terms apply to all bookings made after 14 March. Some people will end up up losing half their money.

The same travel insurance rules apply to those with self-made bookings as above.

Can I travel anyway?

If you were booked to travel to, for example, Malaga, the hotel is open and the flight is operating, you could copy the prime minister’s father, Stanley Johnson, and travel anyway; however, you need to be aware that your travel insurance will be voided (mainland Spain only). If you were unlucky enough to contract the virus while away, you could incur huge hospital/accommodation bills as a result. For most people it won’t be worth the risk.



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