UK holidaymakers have a total of £130m worth of travel vouchers to use up before 30 September 2022 or risk losing their money.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned travellers that credit notes issued by holiday companies and airlines when their trips were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic are set to expire next year.
Thousands of customers were encouraged to accept credit instead of refunds at the time, as tour operators and travel agents buckled under the pressure of dealing with a huge number of cancellations due to countries around the world shutting their borders in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Michael Budge, Head of Atol at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “With over £130m 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.”
In July 2020, it was announced that consumers who accepted refund credit notes for cancelled Atol-protected holidays would continue to be covered by the Atol scheme.
This protection applied to vouchers issued from 10 March 2020, and meant if the company a holidaymaker had booked through went bust, they wouldn’t lose their money.
However, the CAA has said that, from midnight on 19 December 2021, Atol holders will no longer be able to issue Atol-protected refund credit notes for holidays cancelled due to the pandemic.
Travellers who have already accepted Atol-protected vouchers between 10 March 2020 and 19 December 2021 remain unaffected by the change.
“Refund credit notes have been a fantastic tool to reassure consumers and support the industry,” said Mr Budge.
“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.”
Consumers are also being reminded that, along with redeeming a valid refund credit note for a new booking, they can request a cash refund for their cancelled trip at any point.