finance

Fury as billionaire travel firms refuse full refunds for holidays in coronavirus hotspots


CARER Nicki Munt has been waiting six months to get £360 back for her Covid-cancelled Spain trip but Loveholidays – whose rich owners have £1billion in the bank – have refused.

Thousands of other customers of Loveholidays and another mean-spirited firm, On The Beach, are being left in the lurch.

Fury as billionaire travel firms refuse full refunds for holidays in coronavirus hotspots

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Fury as billionaire travel firms refuse full refunds for holidays in coronavirus hotspotsCredit: Solarpix
Thousands of other customers of Loveholidays are being left in the lurch

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Thousands of other customers of Loveholidays are being left in the lurch

They are owed money for missed trips or are being refused full refunds for upcoming breaks in coronavirus hotspots like Spain and France.

Nicki, 56, from Lincoln, said: “It’s a nightmare. I’ve tried to contact them every day.”

The two firms are almost alone in the package travel industry in refusing to fully refund the cost of trips to destinations that the Foreign Office says are not safe to visit.

Trade body Abta says they should — and all the main package holiday firms Tui, Hays Travel, Jet2 Holidays, Kuoni and Trailfinders are.

Even a family-operated business Mercury Holidays, from Kent, has been offering refunds within 14 days.

Not doing so leads to holiday horror shows — with customers who feel forced to travel, but arrive in their destinations to find hotels closed.

It’s appalling so many families are fighting for refunds from companies

Tory MP Matt Vickers

Abta told their members, including Loveholidays and On The Beach, that they “should offer refunds to package holiday customers where the Foreign Office advises against travel”.

How did the two firms react? They quit Abta.

Tory MP Matt Vickers said: “It’s appalling so many families are fighting for refunds from companies who sold holidays with Abta protection, only to then quit Abta. They should be given full refunds.”

Many people booked with Loveholidays and On The Beach because they were members of the respected trade body and expected extra protection.

Loveholidays is owned by private equity firm Livingbridge — which boasts “We have over £1billion ready to invest.” Its boss Wol Kolade, 54, lives in a £6million house near Brighton.

On The Beach boss Simon Cooper, 49, takes home more than £300,000 a year. He lives in a seven-bedroom mansion in posh Alderley Edge, Cheshire, an area known for its millionaire footballers.

We agree this is unfair and are calling on airlines to change their policies

Loveholidays spokesperson

On The Beach is valued at £400million.

Both firms say because flights are still running they don’t have to cancel holidays and fully refund them.

Families who had trips booked to areas the Government said is unsafe have been told they won’t get flight costs back, though they have received hotel and transfer costs.

Others have been waiting months for refunds on cancelled flights but are finding it impossible to pursue claims.

A Loveholidays spokesperson said: “Some airlines have chosen to continue flying to destinations against government travel advice, and in these instances, are refusing to refund our customers. We agree this is unfair and are calling on airlines to change their policies.”

On The Beach yesterday insisted: “All customers are offered a keep/cancel option prior to departure. It is not the case that we will never provide full refunds.”

Money Saving Expert’s Steve Nowottny, said: “Abta has been clear firms must refund you if there’s a Foreign Office warning and you can’t be given a holiday without ‘significant change’.”

Dubai

Michelle and her husband Howard feel forced to go to Dubai despite warnings

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Michelle and her husband Howard feel forced to go to Dubai despite warnings

Bristol’s Michelle Garwood Sutton, 49, feels forced to go to Dubai with husband Howard this week despite official warnings about the region.

She said: “I asked On The Beach for a refund but they refused, so we’ve decided to go despite the risk and extra cost.

“We’re having to pay £117 each for Covid tests here, £80 each for tests before we come back and £106 for travel insurance – four times what it would normally be.

“I thought we were protected by package holiday rules but they turned out to be completely useless.”

Lanzarote

The FCO advised against all non-essential travel to the Spanish islands

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The FCO advised against all non-essential travel to the Spanish islandsCredit: Shutterstock

Julie Linstead, 50, from Wanstead, London, paid £70 to take On The Beach to the small claims court to get back £1,100 for Ryanair flights to Lanzarote.

The mum-of-three was due to depart for an eight-day break on August 5 with son Luke, 14, partner Andrew Alefounder, 53, and his daughter Jessica, 16.

But the family didn’t fly after the FCO advised against all non-essential travel to the Spanish islands a week before.

Julie has been refunded £1,306 for her hotel and transport costs – but the holiday firm refuses to refund the additional £1,100 she paid for flights.

Tenerife

Ryanair refused to compensate for flights to Tenerife

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Ryanair refused to compensate for flights to TenerifeCredit: Shutterstock

Anne Kennedy, 49, from Glasgow, is fighting for £1,400 back from Loveholidays – even though they cancelled her trip two days before she was due to fly to Tenerife in July.

They sent the mum-of-four a credit voucher to cover the cost of her hotel and transfers for the ten-day break but said she would have to claim a refund for the Ryanair fares herself.

Ryanair refused to compensate her as they said the flights were still active when the holiday was cancelled.

Anne said: “Loveholidays are pathetic. I shouldn’t have to fight for a refund. They cancelled my holiday.”

Tenerife

Nicki Munt and hubby Qamaris are battling for a £360 refund from Loveholidays

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Nicki Munt and hubby Qamaris are battling for a £360 refund from Loveholidays

Nicki Munt is battling for a £360 refund from Loveholidays after her honeymoon in Tenerife was cancelled in March.

She and 51-year-old hubby Qamar Zaman were due to fly off the day after their wedding but the hol was cancelled at midnight the night before.

She said: “Ryanair said they had given our flight money back to Loveholidays, so where is it?

“It took five months to get back £700 hotel money. My husband works for the NHS so we were given ‘priority’.”

Boris Johnson hints air passenger duty could be cut to boost travel industry

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