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Travel Updates


To help direct your query as efficiently as possible, please refer to the key information below;

Latest Travel Advice

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An update from your Co-op Travel

Following on from the recent announcement by the Government, our branches are now temporarily closed. We're still here for you, by phone, Facebook or email. You can find your local branch details here:

 https://www.cooptravel.co.uk/find-a-branch

If you have a booking with us

We will be notifying customers who are due to depart on their holidays up to the 2nd December 2020. Rest assured, if you have a booking with us, we will be contacting you in departure date order to discuss your travel options once we have received further communication from our tour operators.

Will I be able to go on holiday?

No. FCO advice in England states the public should stay at home during the lockdown period and "there is no exemption for staying away from home on holiday - this includes staying in a second home". This means that overnight stays - apart from within a support bubble - are banned within the UK and abroad. People cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions. For more from FCDO please visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

What if I'm booked to go away before 5 November?

England's lockdown begins on Thursday 5 November, so the rules only apply from 12.01am that day.

This means you can fly out of the UK before then, but may be subject to quarantines both when you arrive at your destination and when you come back. Although airlines are operating normal flight schedules before lockdown is imposed, they will be heavily reduced in November and December. So if you are returning to England during lockdown, your travel plans are likely to be disrupted. It is best to contact your holiday provider for full details.

What happens if I'm already abroad?

People who live in England who are already abroad are not obliged to travel home before lockdown.

Those currently on a domestic holiday will be allowed to finish their holidays, but are still subject to the requirements in England not to go out without a reasonable excuse. Passengers arriving home from abroad before 5 November will be able to travel back as normal as flights are operating at regular capacity. But those due to come home after that could have their travel plans disrupted as fewer flights will be operating. You will only have to quarantine if the destination you are returning from is not on the UK travel corridor list.

If I can't go on holiday, will I get a refund?

A considerable number of planes due to take off from airports in England will be grounded during lockdown, as only people travelling for work will be allowed to fly. If your flights are not running or you have a package holiday booked abroad you can't go on, you are likely to be entitled to a refund.

Can I claim on travel insurance?

Unless you have a new policy that specifically covers COVID-related disruption, you can only claim back on travel insurance if you took it out or booked the trip before March 2020 - when the coronavirus pandemic became a "known event".

Will airports close?

No. England is not closing its borders, so people will be allowed to travel by plane within the UK and abroad for business purposes only. But because of such a heavy drop in demand, airlines are reducing their flight schedules significantly, so it may be difficult to book a flight.

Will travel corridors continue?

According to government guidance: "Inbound international travel will continue to be governed by the travel corridor approach." So if you are landing in England from a country it has a corridor with, you will not be obliged to self-isolate for 14 days just because the country is in lockdown. But if your destination is on the quarantine list, you must not leave your home at all for 14 days - even for the reasons permitted by the new measures.

When will I be able to go abroad again?

The prime minister has said localised restrictions in England - or the tiered system - will resume on 2 December.

This could mean that large parts of Britain will be able to travel abroad again - but those in the highest risk areas will be strongly advised not to do so. This is all subject to change.

Are things different in other parts of the UK?

Large parts of Scotland, all of Wales and Northern Ireland are currently in lockdown. The three nations have not closed their borders, but have similar restrictions on international travel to England - only allowing people to go abroad for work or a small number of other reasons.

I am subject to a local / national lockdown and I’m due to travel imminently, what does this mean for my forthcoming holiday? Am I entitled to a refund?

Customers with holidays due to depart during a lockdown period are advised to speak to their travel company to discuss their options. Options will include rebooking for a later date – which would mean travellers still get their holiday and have something to look forward to after lockdown.

Depending on what type of travel service you have booked, the company’s policy, and the circumstances, you may be able to get a refund, or a refund credit note or other form of voucher. If the airline cancels your flight, the travel company cancels the package holiday or the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel you should be entitled to a full refund.

In other situations, customers should speak to their travel company to discuss what their options are. There are likely to be options to amend travel dates beyond the end of the lockdown period. If no alternatives can be arranged customers might receive a part refund although the travel company would be entitled to retain any costs already incurred that could not be recovered from the travel service suppliers. This is what the Competition and Markets Authority has said about local lockdowns so far. You can speak to your travel insurance provider to see if there is any cover, although most policies don’t cover for this sort of COVID cancellation.


If you require any further information, please get in touch

Countries and territories exempt from advice against 'all but essential' intl. travel

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The FCDO has a global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, but exempts destinations that do not pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. National restrictions begin in England from 5 November 2020.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice reflects the latest assessment of risks to British nationals in each country or territory overseas.

The FCDO continues to advise against non-essential international travel at this time, except to the countries and territories listed on this page.

The list includes all countries and territories assessed as not posing an unacceptably high risk to British travellers, based on the latest assessment of COVID-19 risks overseas. It does not reflect any entry restrictions that these countries and territories may require British travellers to comply with. You should check the relevant travel advice page for information on any such restrictions.

All our travel advice remains under constant review to ensure it reflects our latest assessment of risk to British nationals overseas.

Click here for up to date information from FCDO - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Refunds

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The impact that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the travel industry and the suppliers who provide services to create a package holiday has been extensive.

There have been necessary changes to how Co-operative Travel issue refunds to customers for their cancelled holiday arrangements. During this time refunds are taking longer than usual, and we thank you for your patience.

If you have booked a package including an element of transport, such as a flight, train, cruise, ferry, it is important that you know that your money is safe and you are financially protected from the financial failure of any of the suppliers, or indeed ourselves as your Travel Agent, or Organiser.

If your booking is cancelled because the FCO advise against travel, you are entitled to a refund, but you may need to be patient with the unfolding refund process. It will be dependent upon the tour operator on your booking.

When we are a travel agent (You’ve booked your holiday through Co-op Travel and we sell you a holiday that is fulfilled by another supplier or tour operator. i.e. Jet2 Holidays, TUI)

We operate mainly as a travel agent, where we sell other companies’ holidays in the capacity of an agent. This means we can offer to you the consumer a wide range of travel arrangements rather than being limited to just offering one company in the main. When we collect money from you, it is paid over to the travel organiser. If the arrangements are cancelled and a refund is applicable, we must receive the money back from the supplier in order to hand it back to you.

What is a Refund Credit Note (RCN)?

A Refund Credit Note entitles you to rebook a holiday at a future date or receive a cash refund at the expiry date of the note.  It also retains the financial protection that you had with your original booking.
 
If your original booking, for example a package holiday with flights, came with ATOL financial protection, the RCN will still provide this protection.  If your original booking came with ABTA financial protection, for example a cruise holiday or other package holiday including rail or coach travel, the RCN will still provide this protection.

Refund Credit Notes may look different depending on your travel provider, but they should all comprise the following:

  • An expiry date, which is the date to which your money is protected, and is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements. You are entitled to re-book or have a cash refund by this date at the latest (if your original booking was for a package holiday).
     
  • The value of the Refund Credit Note must be equal in value to the amount you paid for the original booking (or less the amount your travel provider has offered you as a part cash refund).  
     
  • The Refund Credit Note must include the original booking details and reference.
     
  • The Refund Credit Note must not include any other amount offered as a rebooking incentive or other offer. Any such offers must be documented separately and are not covered by any scheme of financial protection.
     
  • You should retain all previous booking documentation including booking confirmations, ATOL Certificates where appropriate and proofs of payment.

 

Co-op Travel have offered me a Refund Credit Note instead of a cash refund. Should I accept this?

Thousands of customers have already amended and rebooked their holiday or have received a Refund Credit Note from their travel provider. If your original holiday was covered by a financial protection scheme (e.g. ATOL or ABTA), your Refund Credit Note is financially protected by ATOL or ABTA (whichever covered your original booking) in the event your travel business fails. It is important that your Refund Credit Note includes certain things, please see more detail on this there (see What is a Refund Credit Note above). If you are uncertain about accepting a Refund Credit Note, then talk to your travel provider about your options. ABTA can also provide information on these.

As a long term member of ABTA, Co-op Travel follow the rules for Refund Credit Note. If you have evidence that an agent is not following the above rules, in the first instance please contact our Customer Support team. customersupport@cooptravel.coop

If I accept a Refund Credit Note, will I loose my right to a cash refund?

No. A Refund Credit Note preserves your right to a cash refund, which can be redeemed at the latest at the expiry date of the note.

Your refund and the Package Travel Regulations (PTR)

The complication with the scale of the current refund position is that the travel organisers are also waiting for the funds back from airlines, hotels, transfers and tour providers. If the amount of refunds that are due were all paid over, within the 14 days as set out in the Package Travel Regulations (PTR), there wouldn’t have been enough time for the funds to have moved around from company to company.

Ultimately someone would fail in the chain and there would likely be a domino effect leaving customers without refunds and having to make a claim against the protection schemes that are in place.

Is a holiday voucher the same as a Refund Credit Note?

No. A holiday voucher is different to a Refund Credit Note. Holiday vouchers, gift vouchers and other discount vouchers are not protected by the schemes of financial protection. 

When can I redeem my Refund Credit note for another holiday or a cash refund?

Your Refund Credit Note should include an expiry date which is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements, or a date sooner than this.  

The reason the dates will vary by provider is because some companies will have financial protection in place for their holidays for a longer period than others. The majority of holiday bookings are covered by ATOL. ABTA does not have the authority to set dates for when ATOL protection applies, this is set by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

How is my money protected and why is it important?

The majority of package travel arrangements provided by ABTA Members are protected by either the CAA’s ATOL scheme or by the ABTA Bond of the Member company. Both the ATOL and ABTA schemes protect a refund that was due for a holiday that has not taken place if a travel company fails. You can check this for yourself on the ATOL Air Travel Trust Payment Policy, section 4.2 on page 28.

ABTA is an independent organisation, recognised by the UK Department for Business (BEIS) as an Approved Body under the 2018 Package Travel Regulations. Some of our Members provide bonds through one of the other two Approved Bodies – ABTOT or the CPT Bonded Coach Holidays schemes. ABTA accepts the use of both of these schemes for our Members. Some Members also use financial failure insurance products rather than Bonds. These are also permitted under the 2018 Package Travel Regulations. ABTA checks that all these are in place and monitors them, so that customers do not have to do so when booking with an ABTA Member. Further information on the ATOL scheme can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

What Co-op Travel are doing

We are keeping in touch with all of the travel organisers we work with to make sure refunds are received as quickly as possible although there has been a call to government to permit that refunds should be made in the form of a Refund Credit Note, effectively delaying the refund to allow the companies involved to work through the administrative tasks to get funds back to the customer.

The Refund Credit Note would be redeemable against a future booking and there may be a option to exchange for cash at a later point (on or before March 31st 2021 is likely).

It is important to note that the value would remain protected against the original booking to keep consumer financial protection in place, so your investment remains protected.

Due to the changes to businesses around the world from reduced staffing levels, offices being unavailable and the additional loss of new sales whilst consumers are coming to terms with the changes on their own circumstances, there is inevitable disruption and we would ask for your understanding of these facts.

When we are the Organiser

Sometimes when we sell travel arrangements to our customers, we become the organiser as dictated by the Package Travel Regulations (PTR), and so the responsibilities and obligations fall to us.

We will do our very best ensure that refunds are provided but we rely on our third-party travel partners to make that possible. This may mean you are provided with a Refund Credit Note until cash is received back from airlines, hoteliers etc. The Refund Credit Note may be redeemed for a cash refund at a later date if you are unable to use the Refund Credit Note in the meantime (We are working with 31st March 2021 to redeem or exchange).

The information from many of the travel suppliers involved in the holidays we sell is changing from day to day, which in turn means it is difficult for us to be able to give clear and absolute guidance to our customers and would thank you for your patience as the refund process evolves.

Page updated: 21/04/2020 11:00

 

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