Covid cancels Christmas: What are my travel rights?

Credit: PA

Travel plans within and beyond the UK have been cancelled amid growing concerns about a new Covid-19 variant spreading in the country.

The development prompted a last minute change from the government, scrapping the festive travel window between December 23-27.

While many other countries have banned arrivals from the UK in a bid to stop the highly transmissible variant from spreading within their shores.

Here are your rights if you had travel booked for within the UK, or overseas.

What if I had rail or coach travel booked within the UK?

The government has pledged to refund all rail and coach travel bought within the UK for the now cancelled Christmas travel window.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move would ensure "no-one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing".

Mr Shapps said the refund will apply to journeys in England booked on or after November 24, when the Christmas travel window was announced.

He said: "This ensures no one is left out of pocket for doing the right thing – staying home in Tier 4, and elsewhere staying local and only meeting your Christmas bubble on Christmas Day."

What if I had a flight booked to travel overseas but live in Tier 4?

There is a travel ban in place for Tier 4 for all but essential journeys, this means those living in London and the south-east cannot take booked flights or holidays.

An increasing number of countries are also closing their borders to the UK in a bid to stop the new mutant Covid variant spreading to their shores.

"If your flight or holiday is cancelled, you are due a refund," consumer experts Which? advises.

Travel company Tui has announced all package holiday customers in Tier 4 can rebook or get a refund. It has also cancelled all flights through to December 30.

EasyJet has said customers in Tier 4 can also get a refund.

Other airlines, including British Airways and Ryanair, have not issued refunds during various Covid lockdowns but instead invite customers to rebook or accept a voucher.

What if I live in Tier 3 but need to travel through Tier 4 to catch an international flight?

Those living in other tiers with flights departing from airports in Tier 4 - Luton, London City or Heathrow airports can enter the area and travel, although it’s likely many flights and holidays will be cancelled.

If your flight or holiday is cancelled, you are due a refund.

Which? advises, however, that the situation is a "grey area" as the government has not banned international travel for those under Tier 3 restrictions and below.

The group warns operators and airlines will likely still operate if the borders are open, making it difficult to secure a refund.

Your flight may be covered on a flexible booking policy, allowing you to move your holiday to a new date without paying a fee.

What about international train travel?

Eurostar services have been temporarily halted out of London after each of the destinations it runs services to closed their borders.

France, Belgium, and the Netherlands have all closed their borders to those travelling from the UK.

People at St Pancras station in London waiting to board the last train to Paris on Sunday Credit: PA

Eurostar says it plans to resume all train services to and from the UK on Wednesday 23 December.

All tickets for the service bought after July 1, 2020 are flexible, allowing customers to reschedule.

Travellers will not be charged an exchange fee if the changes are made at least 14 days before the initial travel date.

But customers do face having to pay the difference is the exchange if for a higher price ticket, and will not be refunded for switching onto a cheaper ticket.