Following the news the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had reinstated non-essential travel ban on Spain, Britons with up and coming holiday plans were suddenly left floundering for refunds. While package holiday companies are legally obliged to give full refunds due to the circumstances, it seems Ryanair is taking a different route.
The airline was described as enforcing a “use it or lose it” policy to travellers who had purchased tickets by travel journalist Simon Calder.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning on Monday, Mr Calder explained: “Ryanair is saying ‘use it or lose it’.
“‘If you’re not here your flights going anyway. You’ve lost cash.’”
Express.co.uk has contacted Ryanair for comment on this situation and what options they might suggest to would-be travellers.
However, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has since spoken out about the issue and confirmed the airline’s “non-refundable” ticket vow.
“We don’t have cancellations. All our bookings are non-cancellable,” he said in an interview.
“We expect to see a drop in UK-Spain bookings over the next two weeks and an uptick in no shows. The fares are non-refundable, [but] we will continue to offer free changes [to flights].”
The Ryanair boss then pointed the finger at the Government, who he suggested had “mismanaged” the pandemic.
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“The UK government panicked over the weekend. It was a badly managed over-reaction,” he said.
“They should have controlled arrivals from Catalonia on a regional basis. But we have become used to the UK government mismanaging COVID-19.”
Holidaymakers who are currently in Spain are allowed to complete their trip, however, must enter into a period of self-isolation on their return home.
Meanwhile, for everyone else, the FCO states: “From 27 July, the FCO advise against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks in the country.
“This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of COVID-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).
“The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time.
“Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.
“If you are returning from Spain you will be required to self-isolate on your return to the UK, but the FCO is not advising you to cut short your visit.
“You should contact your tour operator or airline if you have any questions about your return journey.”
For holidaymakers who can not get their money back, financial journalist Martin Lewis says accepting vouchers is the way to go.
“Those people who booked a holiday recently to Spain even if you have travel insurance you’re not going to be covered in most cases if the flight is still on and the hotel is still on,” he said in a video.
“You’re not going to be covered because they are still up and running and they would say that’s your issue.
“So what can you do? Certainly, I would be looking to take advantage of ‘you can move your flight for free’ and book it to another time because a refund is certainly unlikely.
“I’d be taking advantage of any ATOL credit notes which are now backed by the government.
“I’d be talking to the hotel about trying to move it to the future because you’re going to struggle to get a full refund.”
He added that it is certainly worth asking airlines and other travel providers for a refund, but noted: “If you’re getting a blanket no don’t look and think travel insurance is going to cover you.
“It is going to be difficult.”
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