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Tier 4 rules: What happens to your travel plans?

Tier 4 restrictions and regional lockdowns have turned many people’s Christmas plans upside down. Disruption to travel arrangements has caused a lot of trouble and heartache. The disruption isn’t just about the emotional distress. The cancellation of travel plans has left many with unusable but paid reservations. What happens to your travel plans and can you get a refund?

Krista Lomu
· 4 min read

Tier 4 restrictions and regional lockdowns have turned many people’s Christmas plans upside down. Disruption to travel arrangements has caused a lot of trouble and heartache. The disruption isn’t just about the emotional distress. The cancellation of travel plans has left many with unusable but paid reservations. What happens to your travel plans and can you get a refund?

Can I travel from Tier 4? 

If you live in a place under Tier 4 restrictions, then you should avoid any unnecessary travel. You are still allowed to travel for work, education or if you are caring for a vulnerable person, but travel for leisure purposes is prohibited. 

What if I need to travel to Heathrow (Tier 4) to travel?

If you are travelling from an area with no travel restrictions, you can travel to Heathrow for your trip. While Heathrow is under Tier 4, you can still catch a flight from the airport. 

Can I get a refund on my airline tickets?

Your chance of getting a refund depends slightly on where you were about to fly. Many European countries have banned all flights from the UK with airlines cancelling hundreds of flights. If your flight has been cancelled, then the airline has to provide you with a refund. You won't be entitled to extra compensation because the cancellation wasn’t the airlines’ fault. But you will receive a full refund on what you paid for the ticket. Airlines have already begun refunding travellers for these cancelled flights. If you want, airlines are also offering you the option to rebook. 

If your flight wasn't cancelled, you are technically not entitled to a refund. Even those living under Tier 4 restrictions are not automatically entitled to a refund. Most airlines are offering the option to rebook without extra charge, but few have agreed to provide refunds. However, if you cannot travel due to the restrictions, do contact your airline. The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the situation, and you might find that you are entitled to a refund after all. Documenting your reasons for having to cancel your flights could be helpful in this case.

What about train and coach tickets?

You should get a refund if you need to cancel a rail or coach journey that started or ended between 23-27 December in England. The refunds apply only if you booked your travel on or after 24 November. If you booked before this date, your train company might only give you a voucher to use later. 

International train connections to mainland Europe were cancelled, along with flights. Eurostar trains only operated trains from Paris to London. If your Eurostar connection was cancelled, then you are entitled to a refund. 

Can I return to the UK if I’m abroad?

If you are currently abroad, then there is nothing stopping you from returning to the UK. You are allowed to return home, even if you live in a region under Tier 4 regulations. Be mindful that many flights to the UK have been cancelled and more cancellation could be on the horizon. But if your flight is operating, then you are allowed to return to the UK. 

Will my package holidays after Christmas still leave? 

If you are scheduled to fly after Christmas, then you have to keep your eyes on what is going to happen in the next few days. The country’s biggest holiday company, Tui, has cancelled all flights from Luton until 30 December. Full refunds are due on these package holidays. 

However, if you are living somewhere travel is restricted, but your trip hasn't been cancelled, you aren't automatically entitled to a refund. Tour operators may allow you to rebook for next year. They are not under any obligation to do so, however.

Krista Lomu

Krista Lomu

Krista has been writing about finance for nearly a decade. Based in London, she hopes to turn even the most complicated topics to approachable and interesting for readers. When she's not writing and working with small businesses, she likes to read, watch football and play games - fuelled on by many cups of coffee!
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