BRITS who were given credit notes for their cancelled holidays have been urged to check the expiry dates – as thousands approach the 12-month cut off date.
Many airlines and travel agents who dished out vouchers for cancelled flights have failed to warn customers that they could be approaching the deadline.
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And as travel restrictions in Britain continue, thousands will expire before Boris Johnson reopens Britain's borders.
Rory Boland, consumer expert at Which? Travel, urged holidaymakers to check the small print.
He told the Daily Mirror: "When thousands of holidays were cancelled last Spring, many people were given no option but to accept a refund credit note, on the assurance that these could eventually be exchanged for cash or used on a future holiday.
“But a year has nearly passed, and most of those with notes that are due to expire will likely now just want their money back."
He added: "Given these customers have already loaned their money to holiday companies for a year, they cannot again be given the run-around on refunds.
"Anyone with a RCN that is due to expire should speak to their travel provider to exchange it for a cash refund. Some customers may be happy for the expiry date on their RCN to be extended, but holiday companies cannot assume this without giving travellers the option of a refund first."
It comes as England's international holiday ban continues – with the measures now expected to last until July at the earliest.
Travel restrictions first came into force during the spring lockdown last year, when Brits were urged to only leave home for essential reasons.
And ministers published new Covid laws earlier this week which mean people will be officially banned from leaving the country without a reasonable excuse from Monday.
Epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has since suggested we may not be seeing the sun abroad until autumn – the earliest at which we can expect life to be back to somewhere resembling 'normal'.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: "Depending what happens in other areas of the world, travel may be one of the later things to be relaxed.
"But I think we… whilst not everything will be back to normal by the summer, certainly by the autumn, it will feel a lot more normal."
Depending what happens in other areas of the world, travel may be one of the later things to be relaxed.
EasyJet is among airlines extending credit notes as a result of the ongoing travel ban.
The airline said that while vouchers typically carry a 12 month use-by date, all those due to end on or after June 30 will be extended for six months.
Meanwhile, Jet2.com said all vouchers had a six month expiry, although the company – including Jet2Holdiays has not issued credit notes since October 2020.
If you were issued a voucher that has since expired, you can, however, contact the airline for a full refund.
How can I get a refund on my airline voucher?
If your airline voucher is about to run out, you may want to look at how to extend it or get a refund. The following advice from Which? explains how…
First, approach your airline and explain the situation, and why you want a refund.
If it refuses, you can take your complaint to alternative dispute resolution. It’s free in most instances, and several passengers have had success doing this.
If you were offered a refund at the time and the options were displayed clearly and you chose to accept a voucher, you won’t be able to swap for a refund.
The best thing to do in this instance is check to see if the validity has been extended – see further down the article for airline policies.
If not, use the voucher or you will lose your money It may be difficult to predict when we can travel again, so you could choose a flight for 2022, where there’s a higher chance travel will be less restricted.
Those who were handed credit notes in September, before it changed its policy, should be aware their vouchers will expire this month.
British Airways said all vouchers with them are valid until April 2023.
And while Ryanair vouchers typically have a 12 month shelf life, the company has extended all credit notes until December 31.
A TUI UK spokesperson said customers who do not use their credit note by September 30 will be issued a full refund.
They added that TUI will no longer be issuing credit notes from March 31, 2021.
The latest travel laws come as part of lockdown rules being eased on Monday, but effectively there's no big change for holidays – merely an extension – as they are already banned.
People in England and Wales will, however, face a fine of £5,000 for breaking the new law.
Ministers are due to make an announcement on April 12 around foreign travel.
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