Holiday bookings surged after England's lockdown exit plan was announced - but is it sensible to plan ahead?

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 10:57 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 10:57 am
Airlines reported a spike in bookings overnight (Photo: Shutterstock)

Airlines have reported a surge in international holiday bookings following the Government's reveal of a roadmap out of lockdown.

On Monday 22 February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out the four stage plan for unlocking Covid restrictions in England, including hints that travel abroad may be possible later in the year.

Though there will be differences in easing across the four nations, it is expected that some measures - including international travel - will be eased at broadly similar times.

The announcement led hundreds to book holidays abroad overnight, with Greece, Spain and Turkey the most booked destinations for breaks from July 2021 onwards.

Others, however, are holding back on booking an international holiday for this year. The government will provide a further update on the situation on 12 April.

Is it sensible to book a holiday for 2021?

If you're looking to book a holiday for 2021, the safest bet would be booking a holiday within the UK for later in the year.

The Government has said that self-contained accommodation will be permitted to open from 12 April, depending on the four 'tests' for easing lockdown.

However, as of this date, people will only be able to stay in self-contained accommodation with people from their own household. From 17 May, when indoor mixing is allowed again, it may be possible to stay in self-contained accommodation with another household.

Booking a UK-based 'staycation' is not a fool proof  plan, however, with easing of restrictions potentially limited if the four tests are not being met. It is wise to make sure your booking is flexible in case you have to cancel or change dates due to restrictions.

Booking an international holiday at this time carries slightly more risk, given your ability to go away will depend not only on coronavirus restrictions in the UK, but restrictions in the country to which you are travelling.

Currently, returnees from so-called 'red list' countries have to stay in UK quarantine hotels, costing just shy of £2,000 per person.

It's possible, too, that countries may demand evidence of a negative coronavirus test or even evidence of a coronavirus vaccine for entry.

There is nothing to stop you booking an international holiday at this time. However, you should check the terms of your booking very carefully to see what the company policy is in the event of restrictions preventing you from travelling.

A high degree of flexibility is recommended to make sure you can change the dates of travel if necessary.

Will I get my money back if I can't go?

In the instance of domestic holidays, accommodation providers will usually refund you or offer later dates on your stay if there are legal restrictions on travel, or legal restrictions forcing the provider to close.

This isn't always the case, however, and you should again check the terms of your stay carefully before booking. Many Airbnb stays, for instance, offer flexible cancellation right up to a week before your stay.

In the case of international holidays, airline providers are usually obliged to refund you or offer different dates if the flight is cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

Things can be more complicated if the rules are not so clear cut, or if you simply no longer feel comfortable with travelling, but the holiday provider has not cancelled your trip.

As before, the safest way to book a holiday is to make sure you have checked provider policies carefully - and taken out comprehensive insurance if travelling abroad.