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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Flight cancelled due to COVID? You’ve got less than a month to apply for a voucher

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UK travellers who had holidays cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for flight vouchers – but they need to cash them in soon.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that a huge £132 million (€157 million) is up for grabs in unspent Refund Credit Notes (RCNs).

These were offered by travel firms over the last year as an alternative to cash refunds and are ATOL-protected or, in other words, financially insured.

But no new ATOL-protected refund credit notes will be issued after 19 December 2021, hence the urgency.

Holidaymakers must redeem these RCNs by 30 September 2022 for them to be valid. The vouchers can be used towards the cost of a new holiday or exchanged for cash.

So if you haven’t even got in touch about your missed flight yet, you’ve only got a few weeks to receive your voucher.

“With over £130 million of ATOL refund credit notes yet to be redeemed, and international travel opening up again, we want to remind consumers to redeem any unused credits to make sure they do not lose out,” says Michael Budge, head of ATOL, which is run by the CAA.

“The decision to end the scheme reflects the changing of international travel restrictions with significantly increased demand from consumers over recent months due to the opening up of more destinations.”

He adds, “refund credit notes have been a fantastic tool to reassure consumers and support the industry.”

How can you redeem your RCNs?

Travellers have three options. If a flight was cancelled solely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can either:

  • Receive a full refund
  • Amend the original booking to a different date in the future
  • For ATOL protected bookings cancelled between 10 March 2020 and 19 December 2021, receive a refund credit note.

Refund Credit Notes may look different depending on your travel provider, but they should all have the following:

  • An expiry date, which is the date until your money is protected, and is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements. You are entitled to re-book or have a cash refund by this date at the latest.
  • The value of the Refund Credit Note must be equal in value to the amount you paid for the original booking (or less the amount your travel provider has offered you as a part cash refund).
  • The Refund Credit Note must include the original booking details and reference.

To claim your refund credit note, you should contact the tour operator you booked with directly.

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