Holidaymakers are not being adequately informed of the risks that Brexit could pose to their plans when booking, the consumer group Which? has warned.
With several of the UK’s biggest tour operators selling holidays for 2019, Which? said customers should be told of the possibility of flight disruption, and what compensation could be paid.
No legal framework yet exists to manage flights to Europe once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, and Ryanair and Lufthansa have cautioned that planes could be temporarily grounded without an aviation deal.
Unless a transition deal for aviation is signed, from September 2018 Ryanair will include the warning on its tickets: “This flight is subject to the regulatory environment allowing the flight to take place.”
Which? called on the government to clarify consumer rights and strike an aviation deal as soon as possible. It advised anyone booking a holiday after March 2019 to check cancellation and refund policies – particularly for any elements such as car hire or villa rental booked outside of a package.
The consumer group said that it asked the UK’s five biggest travel companies, which take 13 million holidaymakers abroad each year, how they were keeping customers informed.
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It said Tui, Jet2 and On the Beach “failed to provide any reassurance that any information would be communicated upfront”, while Thomas Cook had amended its terms and conditions to class any airspace closure with natural disasters, stating it would not provide compensation or reimburse expenses.
Expedia told Which? it believed passengers would be entitled to compensation from airlines, though it is not yet selling post-Brexit holidays.
Peter Vicary-Smith, the chief executive of Which?, said: “This uncertainty for holidaymakers is just one of the many issues affecting people’s everyday lives that need to be resolved as we move closer to the date that the UK leaves the EU.”
About 75% of the 70m foreign trips made by UK residents each year go to the other 27 EU member states.
A spokeswoman for the travel trade organisation Abta said: “Package holidays will continue to be covered by regulations which give holidaymakers the right to an alternative holiday, if available, or a refund in the event of changes caused by extraordinary circumstances.”
Huw Evans, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: “It’s critical people planning trips abroad after Brexit are given urgent clarity about what happens in the event of ‘no deal’.”