HolidayTravelWatch has watched with horror at the devastation caused by the Japanese earthquake and the subsequent after-shocks and Tsunamis.
Our Organisation extends profound sympathies to the Japanese people for the suffering and loss they have endured.
As a consequence of this disaster there are clear travel problems for those British Consumers who are visiting the affected regions. Such problems could arise through cancelled flights, sudden changes to package holidays or problems with travel Insurance cover.
If you are affected by a flight cancellation, EC Regulation 261/2004 provides you with a right to a refund of the air ticket or re-routing and/or a right to care if you become stranded at a foreign airport. Because the flight was cancelled as a result of a natural disaster, it will mean that no compensation is payable under the Regulation; in those cases you should seek further assistance from your Travel Insurer.
If you are about to travel on a package holiday to the region affected, your trip may be subject to significant changes. If that is the case, then Regulation’s 12 & 13 of the Package Travel Regulations provide that the tour operator must advise you before departure and give you the option to cancel without penalty or to accept the changes. They also have to offer you alternatives, including the option of receiving a full refund. Again, because this relates to a natural disaster, compensation will not be payable.
We always advise that before you travel to any ‘risk destination’, that you check with your travel insurer that you will be covered. If they refuse cover, you must advise your tour operator as soon as possible because travelling without travel insurance is not only not a good idea, but it will very likely be contrary to the terms and conditions of your package holiday contact! You must give the tour operator the opportunity to help you resolve this problem!
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states,
“I was shocked to see the images coming out of Japan and I am concerned for the safety of other countries in the Pacific Rim and the safety of holidaymakers. I offer my deepest sympathy and respect for the people of Japan and hope they can recover and rebuild quickly from this disaster. My thoughts also naturally rest with holidaymakers and would suggest that our guidance may help them focus on key travel rights in the next few days”.