Is it safe to book a summer holiday for 2021? Will you get a refund if it is cancelled?

Could we all be going on a summer holiday in 2021? Credit: Unsplash

Despite ongoing Covid restrictions, including hotel quarantines and travel corridors, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said is he was "optimistic" that people will be being able to get away on their holidays this summer.

With England in its third coronavirus lockdown and Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland under strict Covid measures summer getaways both feel very far away (except if you're an influencer in Dubai).

But can the nation dare to dream of a summer escape?

And in light of some consumers still fighting for refunds for last year's holidays, is it safe to book a getaway now in the glow of vaccination rollout optimism?

Will you be entitled to a refund if your holiday is cancelled? Will you need extra insurance? Which companies are a safer bet to book with?

Credit: Unsplash

Will I get my money back if the holiday is cancelled?

Not necessarily.

Consumer rights publication Which? suggests you book a package holiday rather than a separate flight and hotel.

Tour operators pay into an insurance fund run by the Civil Aviation Authority which means even if the tour operator goes bust (as several already have), you are still entitled to a refund.

You do not have have the same assurances with an airline or hotel if you book them separately.

To ensure you are covered if you book a package holiday, it is essential the firm is Atol-protected. Most are, but it's a good idea to check Which?'s guide if you're not certain.

You may be entitled to a refund from an airline if the flight is cancelled, although many have tried to fob customers off with vouchers or an option to rebook; it is almost impossible to get your money back for any other reason.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people who booked flights through third party bookings websites ran into trouble about exactly who was responsible for the refund, with customers finding themselves falling between the cracks of a blame game.

For example, the airline would refuse to refund the customer directly as they said they had reimbursed the the bookings website, who were then responsible for passing that on to the traveller.

For this reason, Which? suggest it is important to consider who you book through, perhaps opting to go directly to a hotel or airline, or using an online travel agent.

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Choose a free cancellation option

Flexibility in an uncertain climate is key - it might not always look like the 'best deal' but it could save you a big headache should you for example have to self-isolate, contract Covid-19 lose your job or simply change your mind.

Many hotels in the UK are offering cancel-at-any-time bookings.

Travel sites such as and Expedia also give increasingly giving customers the option of a booking that allows the customer to cancel up to 24-hours before. In more ordinary times, flexible bookings can be the more expensive option, with holidays companies desperate to hook in customers, it is increasingly the default option.

Which? advise to avoid putting down a deposit for a holiday. Some operators are still asking for one, but have slashed the up front cost per customers.

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Companies including easyJet Holidays, Jet2 and Tui are allowing customers to reserve a summer 2021 holiday from £60 per person to encourage people to take the plunge.

If you make any payment upfront, do, check the company's T&Cs to make sure you will not be penalised for cancelling.

Buy insurance quickly - and check the small print

You are covered for your holiday as soon as you take out your holiday insurance which will then cover you if sickness or another unexpected issue prevents you from packing your suitcase.

Insurance companies are offering Covid-19 related policies again, but Which? warns that "there are no completely comprehensive policies". 

Some insurers are now including foreign office (FCDO) cover which includes changing government advice and travel corridors. Few will pay out if the FCDO advice changes between when you booked and the time you were due to depart, so check the small print.

Credit: Pexels

Remember that if you travel against foreign office advice, this usually invalidates your insurance policy.

Now the UK has left the EU, British passport holders can no longer apply for a European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) - although if you have one that is still in date in, it is valid.

You can instead apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which gives gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union.

You will still need insurance.

Book with a credit card

If you booked with a credit card and paid more than £100 for each of your flights, you may be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.