Laws and declarations are often made with the best intentions, but when you restrict something, you create entirely new issues, many of which are unforeseen. There’s plenty of debate around the efficacy of launching a 14 day travel quarantine two months after the rest of the world, and the impact it will have on many things, but there’s been very little talk of how it will directly impact airline customers in a categorically negative way.

No More Refunds

Airlines have gone to incredible lengths since the outbreak of covid-19 to restrict refunds, including re-coding websites to remove the refund button entirely. When they’re not re-coding websites, airlines around the globe have attempted to side step refund laws, by going as far as to redefine the word cancellation.

Ultimately though, passengers had rights, and as long as the airline cancelled the flight, not the passenger, a positive conclusion was generally reached. Not now, thanks to the UK’s 14 day quarantine rules. On the news, many airlines announced plans to reboot flights, and since those planes which wouldn’t have been flying now will be, passengers lose their right to refund.

That’s correct, even if you can’t travel due to the 14 day quarantine requirement, the airline can now stick you with a voucher, at best. You’d have to rely on travel insurance to actually recoup the cash for the trip.

In case you need to brush up on airline cancellation and refund rules, here’s a primer, and here’s a clarification made by the EU stating exactly what airlines must honor during these times, and what they’re off the hook for.

How Can That Be?

Airlines across Europe lobbied to remove the refund option in an attempt to hold onto customer cash, but that move proved unsuccessful. The UK just handed airlines their “get out of refunds” free card, by creating a situation where airlines can fly planes, but passengers with previous reservations won’t likely be able to board them.

It’s fair to say that it was always up to the airline as to whether they’d cancel the flight or not, so the UK Government isn’t at fault there, but the government’s quarantine plan now makes it harder for any customers to actually realize their holiday, or return home to the UK.

  • Visitors who planned to visit for a short amount of time won’t be able to.
  • Brits won’t be able to travel because of the 14 day stay at home upon their return.
  • Airlines will get to say “plane is flying”, so you get nothing, or a voucher at best.

Workers who must report to a job site simply can’t call out sick for two weeks upon return due to the quarantine needs, and now they are unlikely to be able to get a refund when they decide they can’t travel accordingly. The UK Government has just handed airlines the get out of refunds card they’ve hoped for on one hand, while handing them a death sentence, by crippling travel demand on the other. Thanks, Boris?

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