The Holiday Guru is always on hand to answer your questions.
This week he explains how far from home we can go on day trips, lockdown flight refund rules and more.
Q. I like cycling but enjoy different scenery. How far can I go on a day trip from home?
Ken Warnock, via email.
One reader, who enjoys cycling, asks how far he can go on a day trip from home during lockdown. Not far, is the answer
A. Day trips beyond your locality are not allowed except when shopping for essentials or seeking medical treatment. Your ‘local area’ is ‘the village, town or part of the city where you live’, but you may travel to an ‘open space’ within your area for exercise.
Going for a 60-mile spin from your home beyond your locality, even if you stay on your bike and pause now and then, would be breaking lockdown restrictions. It may be frustrating, but these are the rules.
Q. I bought a ticket for a flight to Dublin, leaving next week. I have just had a negative Covid test. The flight still seems on. Surely I can go?
Paul Kendrick, via email
A. No. During the lockdown, which lasts until mid-February, but could go on for longer, all non-essential travel is banned. You must stay at home ‘unless you have a reasonable excuse’ such as work or educational purposes.
Q. What are the rules on flight refunds during lockdown? I was meant to be going to Lanzarote on February 1.
Sarah Smith, Kingston upon Thames.
A. When a flight has been cancelled, which is the case in most situations, you will be due a refund. Your airline may offer a voucher or a flight date change, but unless you are happy to accept either of those, you can insist upon a refund.
Where flights are still going ahead, you will be able to either change your flight date or accept a voucher. Refunds are not usually offered.
Q. I have a package holiday to Cyprus booked with tour operator Jet2 in early February — can I get a refund on this trip?
Susan Casey, Manchester.
One reader asks if she can get a refund for a package holiday she has booked to Cyprus, pictured, with Jet2 in February
A. Yes. Tour operators such as Jet2 and Tui, Britain’s biggest travel company, are offering refunds within 14 days of cancellation, as they must under the Package Travel Regulations.
This lockdown is yet again proving the benefit of packages over booking flights and hotels separately.
In some cases, people have been stuck with pre-paid accommodation overseas that hotels and booking agents will not refund at all.
Q. My wife and I booked a February getaway to celebrate a birthday at a cottage in Dorset. Will we be due a refund?
Mr and Mrs Kitson, Reigate, Surrey.
A. Chances are that the answer is yes. If you were due to go before the lockdown supposedly ends in mid-February, you are covered by consumer law as interpreted by the watchdog Competition and Markets Authority.
It states that where lockdown laws prevent a contract from going ahead as agreed, you are due a full refund.
It seems likely that after the lockdown, Britain will return to the tier systems, which may well also prevent the break happening. So you would be due a refund in that scenario too. See the ‘Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19), consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds’ page of gov.uk.
Q. We are getting cold feet about travelling as we are in our 70s and do not want to risk going away, even though we are due the vaccine. Can we cancel our June holiday in Spain? We do not want to get ill and are nervous.
Mr and Mrs Wellington, via email.
The Guru urges one couple to wait closer to the date before cancelling their trip to Spain, pictured, in June
A. This is understandable, but do not cancel your package trip now, as to do so would be regarded as ‘disinclination to travel’ by your tour operator. Wait until closer to the date.
You may well feel confident to travel by then, if the trip goes ahead. And if the holiday has to be cancelled you will be due a refund by law.
You might also ask your operator now whether you could put the trip back to a later date.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.