THOUSANDS of Brits face having their holiday plans ruined by coronavirus as it continues to spread across Europe and British Airways and Wizz Air cancel flights to bug-ravaged Italy.
The UK government has advised against “all but essential travel” to 10 towns in the north of Italy, primarily in the Lombardy region.
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More than 400 people have been infected across the country – a surge of 25 per cent in 24 hours – with 12 dead and British Airways has cancelled dozens of flights to Milan due to lack of demand and Wizz Air has cancelled all flights from London Luton to Bari from March 11 to April 2.
A BA spokeperson said it was to match “reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue” that they would be merging flights together.
Hotels in Tenerife, Innsbruck and Burgundy have all been locked down after guests were reported with the illness.
The crisis continues to grow in Europe as Spain, France, Croatia, Austria and Switzerland have all recorded new cases this week and Greece, North Macedonia and Georgia all recorded their first cases.
The World Health Organization said yesterday that the virus is now spreading faster outside China.
According to travel experts, the outbreak could cost airlines around the world £23billion.
British companies are already suggesting employees reconsider whether personal or professional travel to certain countries is necessary in the current climate.
It comes as….
Brazil reported its first case on Tuesday meaning the killer bug has spread to every continent on the planet except Antarctica.
Meanwhile, easyjet and Ryanair passengers have slammed the airlines for not allowing them to change their flights or issue refunds to Italy.
While the government has warned against travel to the 10 areas, other parts of the north such as Venice and Milan remain unaffected by closures.
To find out more about whether you should travel, click on your country of choice: Is it safe to travel to Tenerife, Italy, Austria, Greece and Thailand.
But, Brits are being warned to self-quarantine themselves if they have travelled to parts of the country, leading to concerned tourists complaining on Twitter.
One person said: ” I find it disgusting that you are not cancelling flights or offering me a refund on my trip to Venice next week!
“You should be held responsible for the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus as you are happier to fly spreaders around the world than offer refunds!”
Jade wrote: “Don’t think it’s much to ask for some common sense to be applied by airlines when it comes to passenger concerns surrounding #coronavirus. A little bit of leeway when it comes to being able to reroute/change flights without a fee would be helpful. @Ryanair I’m looking at you.”
Rachel said to easyJet: “I think its appalling you are not refunding flights to Milan this week. The Coronavirus has spread and already claimed lives and you would rather my partner and I fly there and potentially get it than refund us.”
Some airlines are allowing passengers refunds to Italy – Greek airline Aegean Airlines is not cancelling flights, but will allow passengers full refunds if they no longer want to fly.
British Airways is allowing travellers heading to northern Italy up until March 2 to change their flights free of charge.
Wizz Air passengers whose flights to Bari have been cancelled will be automatically informed and accommodated on an alternative route at the earliest possible date or full refund or 120 per cent refund of the original fare in airline credit.
Is my holiday affected by Coronavirus?
If you’ve booked a package holiday then you can ask your travel firm to cancel it – but you may have to pay a fee.
You can also ask them to transfer it to an alternative destination or change the dates.
It’s highly unlikely that they will let you cancel it unless you’re travelling to a destination that has been affected by coronavirus and is deemed a no-go destination by the Foreign Office, but you should ask.
Until now, the only areas in Europe that the FCO has issued this advice for are the 10 towns in Northern Italy that have been isolated due to the outbreak – click here to find out more.
The change in advice only means those on package holidays are given some level of protection though, anyone who booked independently are still on their own.
If you booked your flight and accommodation separately then you should contact them to find out whether you can cancel and get a refund.
They are under no obligation to do so – but they may allow you to transfer your holiday if you can’t make it.
You might be able to claim from travel insurance though, so holidaymakers are advised to check with their providers to see if there is something they can do – click here to find out more.
You might also be able to cancel and get a refund if you have a pre-existing medical condition or unexpected illness, anxiety or are pregnant – click here to find out more.
If you are due to fly to one of the affected regions the FCO warns against, airlines might now offer to change your flights free of charge.
Although, because the government advice only concerns specific towns and not airports, airlines are not obliged to.
Regions which are deemed safe to travel, such as Venice and Milan, will not be affected by the new government advice, with airlines unlikely to allow you to change your flights without a fee.
British Airways are allowing passengers with flights to Northern Italy between now and March 2 to delay their travel but are not allowing refunds. They have also cancelled several flights to Milan due to low demand.
Wizz Air have also cancelled a number of flights from London to Bari and are offering to rebook passengers on alteranative flights or reimnurse them 120 per cent of the fare in airline credit.
A number of airlines have cancelled flights to China due to coronavirus, but are unlikely to do the same to Italy until the UK Foreign Office updates its travel advice.
To change a Ryanair flight, fees range from £35 to £95 depending on when and where the flight is going, while easyJet costs range from £25 to £52 – as well as the fare difference for the new flight.
Neither airline allow full ticket refunds, and travel insurance is unlikely to help either.
A Telegraph report claims that just nine per cent of travel insurance policies will pay out for coronavirus cancellations.
However, anxious travellers keen to cancel trips due to coronavirus concerns may have two get out of jail free cards.
While you can’t claim on your travel insurance simply because you don’t want to go away anymore, you may be able to cancel and get a full refund on other grounds.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) explains that most of its members will cover trips if you have to cancel because of a pre-existing condition that’s declared on your insurance.
In this scenario, you could get a full refund if your condition could put you at greater risk of contracting coronavirus – even if you’re not going to a country on the FCO’s warning list.
You may even be covered if you’re pregnant and your doctor advises you not to travel after you’ve purchased your insurance policy.
A Ryanair spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “At present all Ryanair flights are operating as normal. We will follow all public health instructions that are issued.”
An easyJet spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: “There is currently no change to advice for airlines, so our flights are operating as normal and standard terms and conditions on tickets continue to apply.
“We would like to reassure customers that our existing policies and procedures are in line with the guidance provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and EASA. We remain in regular contact with them and will amend our procedures if and when required if guidance changes.
“The health and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is the airline’s highest priority.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “People are understandably concerned about how their travel plans will be impacted, and a lack of clear and timely information has left many travellers confused about their options.
“While the government has now updated its advice to cover the Italian locations that have experienced an outbreak, those travelling to nearby cities like Milan or Verona still won’t be able to cancel and claim on travel insurance, nor will those travelling to Tenerife.”
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