Following the outbreak of Swine Flu in Mexico, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has the following advice for anyone about to travel there on a package holiday.
I’ve booked a package holiday to Mexico, leaving tomorrow/next week and I understand that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is advising against non essential travel. Does this mean I won’t be able to go?
Because the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has reissued travel advice and now advises against all non-essential travel to Mexico, tour operators providing package holidays to Mexico are currently reviewing the position. If you’re due to travel imminently you’ll be unlikely to travel with your package tour operator.
While this advice remains in place customers of ABTA tour operators who have booked package holidays to that destination for the period that the advice is in force will be entitled to receive suitable alternative arrangements, or if this isn’t possible, a full refund of all monies paid to the tour operator.
You may be able to recover this refund from your travel insurance but, if not, the tour operator must provide a refund.
You won’t be entitled to any additional compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator.
These arrangements don’t, however, apply to travel arrangements where the FCO is advising against travel to a country where you’re due to land for a refuelling stop only, unless there’s specific advice against travelling through that airport.
I’ve booked a holiday to Mexico in the autumn. Should I change my plans?
Your tour operator will decide how far in advance they’ll be offering alternatives or refunds, should this become necessary. The exact period will vary as the advice from the FCO can change rapidly. Please check with your tour operator.
If your departure date is some weeks or months ahead, therefore, your tour operator will keep the matter under review and contact you closer to your departure date if it’s necessary to change your holiday. If you’re concerned, please contact your tour operator.
I’ve booked a holiday to the United States. Will I still be able to go?
Holidays to the USA are unaffected but any part of your itinerary which may involve a visit to Mexico will not go ahead.
Will I get my money back?
While the FCO advice remains in place for package travel arrangements you’ll be entitled to receive suitable alternative arrangements from your tour operator, or if this isn’t possible, a full refund of all monies paid to the tour operator. You won’t be entitled to any additional compensation as the reason for any change to your holiday is obviously outside the control of your tour operator.
If you’re overseas and the FCO advice changes to state that they advise against travel to your destination, your tour operator will either arrange for you to return to the UK as soon as is reasonably possible, or make alternative holiday arrangements where this is available or reasonably practicable in the circumstances. If no alternative is available and you’re brought home early, no compensation will be payable but you’ll receive a refund of any unused services, e.g. accommodation costs, where your tour operator is able to recover these from its suppliers.
I’ve booked an independent holiday to Mexico with a scheduled airline. Will my insurance pay out since the holiday has been cancelled out of my control?
With independent travel your scheduled flight may still go ahead. You may be unable to get any refund from the airline or for any accommodation bookings you may also have. But bearing in mind the FCO advice you may be able to cancel and claim a refund from your travel insurance. Check your policy.
What about those already there?
Tour operators are reviewing their policies on an ongoing basis as the situation unfolds. However, if you’re concerned please contact the individual operator who’ll be able to advise you of their current policy.
For the latest updates, check out the FCO website.