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‘Test and trace’ advice means holidaymakers risk losing money

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Holidaymakers could lose thousands of pounds if told they can’t travel as part of the coronavirus ‘Test and Trace’ service.

Those who have booked holidays but are then told to self-isolate by the NHS coronavirus tracking system could be left seriously out of pocket, an investigation reveals.

Of 23 travel operators and airlines questioned over their policies, a small number said they would let customers reschedule where a trip is cancelled after being told they’ve been in close proximity to someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19 and must isolate for 14 days.

The investigation by campaign group Which? revealed that 10 airlines and holiday providers would allow customers to rebook in this instance: Air France/KLM, British Airways, Emirates, Explore, Jet2 and Jet2 Holidays, Riviera, Tui, Ryanair, Saga and Virgin Atlantic.

Explore said it would also offer at least a partial refund in some circumstances.

Travel Republic and Loveholidays said customers should check their insurance policies and would be subject to their usual cancellation terms, which would only provide free amendments if their partnering suppliers allow.

Expedia also suggested that rebooking would only be available if this is already part of the hotel or airline’s policy but added they would do their best to help.

On the Beach and Kuoni didn’t confirm their policies but told Which? that they would continue to support customers where possible.

EasyJet Holidays, HF Holidays, Exodus, Audley Travel, Inntravel and did not respond to Which?’s inquiry.

The Association of British Insurers also said that self-isolation may not be covered if there are Covid-19 exclusions in policies which almost all travel insurance policies sold since the lockdown began now have.

The Department of Health and Social Care, which is responsible for track and trace, warned that travellers could also be asked to delay their return home if they have potentially been exposed to someone infected with Covid-19.

If someone on a plane is later discovered to have had Covid-19, those sitting within two metres will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. However, flight crew and passengers sitting further away on the plane will not.

Which? said it is also concerned that as self-isolation for those contacted by the test and trace system is voluntary, there’s a risk that customers who have paid big sums for holidays which can’t be rebooked will decide to travel anyway.

This could potentially put everyone they come into contact with at risk.

‘Pay attention to terms and conditions’

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “For trust in the travel industry to be restored, firms must be willing to show their customers more flexibility. It is not good enough to state that usual terms apply and deny people the chance to rebook if they are told to self-isolate.

“It is important that anyone told to stay home by the NHS follows these instructions, and those with travel plans will need to speak to their travel operator and work out what their options are. People looking to book soon will also need to pay attention to terms and conditions or choose an operator that will let them reschedule their holiday if they need to, without leaving them out of pocket.”

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