our consumer champion explains your rights

Flights to the province have been cancelled for the time being, and the good news is that all affected passengers should be entitled to a full refund. If you aren’t, I’d recommend raising an official complaint. And feel free to let me know too.

If you have booked a package holiday through a travel agent or tour operator, it’s good news, as you also have a right to a full refund. The company should get in touch and advise you of your options. You may be offered an alternative trip to a “safe” location, but you don’t have to accept this if you feel it’s unsuitable. 

You’ve booked travel to an area that’s now an official “all but essential travel” zone

At the time of writing, the FCO advises against “all but essential travel” to mainland China, due to coronavirus. This means it has identified a significantly increased risk from the disease, and quite understandably, many holidaymakers may decide they want to delay or cancel their trips to “all but essential travel” locations. 

These also include 10 small towns in Lombardy, Italy and Vo’ Euganeo in Veneto, as well as certain provinces on the Thailand-Malaysia border, some Malaysian islands and Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea.

I’m afraid this is where your rights start to get a bit more wobbly, though. If you’ve booked flights yourself, unless your tickets already state otherwise, you have no automatic right to a refund to an “all but essential travel zone”. It is therefore down to the discretion of airlines and holiday companies to refund your travel if you no longer want to go. Contact your travel insurer to see if you’re covered under your policy.