ATOL-protected travellers can now convert COVID-19 credit vouchers into cash refunds

Jul 17, 2020

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If you wish you’d received a refund for your cancelled travel rather than a credit voucher here’s some good news for your weekend. The Civil Aviation Authority has just announced it will allow ATOL-protected travellers to convert credit vouchers issued because of COVID-19 travel cancellations, into cash refunds.

By law, consumers who have purchased package holidays (that were subsequently cancelled by the travel operators) are entitled to receive a full cash refund. While some travel providers have been happily offering these refunds, others have been instead encouraging consumers to accept credit vouchers and some may not be aware of their full rights. This new announcement means any ATOL-protected consumers who already have chosen or will choose to receive a credit voucher now have the right to convert this to a cash refund before 30 September 2021, for cancelled travel originally planned for between 10 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.

“This news provides much-needed clarity for consumers, who should now feel confident that their money is secure if they have chosen to accept a refund credit note for their cancelled ATOL-protected booking”, Paul Smith, Consumer Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said. “While consumers may accept a refund credit note if offered, they are entitled to a cash refund and must be offered this option at the same time as a refund credit note or booking amendment. We have contacted ATOL holders to advise them of their responsibilities”.

The issuing of credit vouchers has been a hot topic with British Airways over the past few months as the airline has encouraged as many customers as possible to accept Future Travel Vouchers rather than a full refunds. Numerous frustrated readers have contacted TPG U.K. to voice their regret and having accepted a Future Travel Voucher from British Airways and their attempts to convert this voucher to a refund without success. Note that ATOL only covers package holidays, so BA flight-only bookings would not be covered, while BA holidays would.

ATOL is a U.K. financial protection scheme applying to most air package holidays sold by U.K. travel businesses.  The ATOL scheme has been especially valuable for consumers where a travel provider has collapsed, as seen with last years demise of Thomas Cook.

Related: Inside a Thomas Cook repatriation flight on the world’s largest passenger jet

If you have an ATOL-protected trip you have accepted a credit voucher for, and would like to convert this to a refund, please contact your travel provider.

Featured image by Gettys Images

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