Coronavirus is a global epidemic, having infected more than 83,000 people in 56 countries worldwide. As a result, airlines have begun to make amendments to their flight schedules for journeys to impacted countries.
- Flights: Las Vegas passengers shock with reckless behaviour
The latest cancellations come from British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air who have all made changes to planned itineraries for flights to Italy as the country sees the number of confirmed cases soar.
With 655 confirmed cases and 17 fatalities, Italy is the worst impacted region outside of Asia.
As demand from travellers reduces, airlines are taking steps to mitigate financial hits, as well as lower the spread of disease.
However, many would-be holidaymakers could now be left concerned about how this could affect them.
Luckily, Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co points out that all flights within Europe should still be covered by EC Regulation NO. 261/2004.
That means passengers are entitled to some support.
This includes a full refund, a free replacement flight to their final destination even if it’s with a different airline or a free replacement flight at a later date.
Benson adds: “This is all to be claimed from and paid for by the operating air carrier, not the company that sold the ticket.”
However, there are some circumstances where passengers may not be entitled to any aid as a result of the cancellation.
“If a cancelled flight and a connecting flight are booked separately the customer would not be entitled to a refund of the latter,” says Benson.
Portugal holidays: Is this the safest holiday destination? [INSIGHT]
Coronavirus: Expert reveals what Britons must do before their holidays [COMMENT]
Blue passport: The value of first issue passports revealed [INSIGHT]
“It only applies to connecting flights booked together. If they book two flights separately then the operating air carrier has no responsibility for the subsequent flights.”
With the FCO issuing travel warnings to a number of infected regions, many travellers may be considering halting their plans, however, it seems this could come with a huge cost.
If a flight is not cancelled, but a passenger optionally chooses not to fly, they will not be entitled to any form of compensation.
“Unfortunately in these circumstances the passenger has no right to a refund or replacement flight,” explains Benson.
This is where having a good travel insurance policy in place could really benefit you.
“Some policies include cancellation if the FCO advise against ‘all but essential travel’ to the destination,” points out Rebecca Kingsley of Travel Insurance Explained.
“A few will offer cancellation cover for ‘cancellation due to any cause beyond your reasonable control’, which would cover you if the FCO advice changed.”
However, she adds: “It is important to note that there must be no travel restrictions in place at the time the policy was purchased.”
Unfortunately, if there is no FCO warning in place, and a passenger is simply fearful of the developing condition, there may not be a lot to fall back on.
“Unfortunately cancellation cover doesn’t include cancelling a trip due to the fear of an epidemic or pandemic, as this is classed as disinclination to travel,” continues Ms Kingsley.
- Flights: Male passenger called out for ‘disgusting behaviour’
“The only exception to this would be those with underlying health conditions who have a letter from their GP or treating doctor confirming they are advised not to travel to an area due to their condition.”
It isn’t just those who are due to go on holiday at could be impacted.
Many Britons already abroad may find themselves stranded as a result of the outbreak, particularly in extreme cases where they find themselves in quarantine.
Most travel insurers will extend policies free of charge in this situation.
Ms Kingsley explains: “You should contact your travel insurance provider and advise them of the situation, some insurers will extend the cover free of charge. However, some may charge an additional premium depending on the length of the extension.”
Financial losses, such as the loss of income, will not be accounted for.
Ms Kingsley continues: “This is known as a consequential loss, and there is no cover for ‘consequential’ loss under a travel insurance policy.
“Put simply, travel insurance will usually cease to provide cover once you have landed back in your home country.”
Though no one knows how the coronavirus epidemic will pan out, staying up to date on news and government travel advice is crucial.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said: “With thousands of holidaymakers set to travel in the next few weeks, particularly in the run-up to Easter, people will no doubt be concerned about how their travel plans will be impacted by the ongoing concerns around coronavirus.
“As the situation is developing, we would advise anyone due to travel in the upcoming weeks to ensure they take out travel insurance if they haven’t already in case any further advice is issued against travel to other countries.
“If you are concerned about travel to a country where FCO advice has not been issued, speak to your travel agent or airline as some are offering the chance to rebook for a later date.
“Your insurer may also allow you to cancel depending on specific circumstances, such as if you have a pre-existing medical condition.”
Source: Read Full Article