A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as a wildfire burns near the village of Archangelos, on the island of Rhodes today (Picture: Reuters)
Huge wildfires have swept through the Greek islands of Rhodes and Corfu, leaving around 10,000 British holidaymakers stranded.
EasyJet has sent two repatriation flights today to Rhodes – the most seriously affected island – with another planned tomorrow, while Jet2 has three extra flights leaving this evening.
Jet2 has cancelled its regular flights to Rhodes for the rest of the week, while Tui cancelled its until Tuesday.
But many airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways were continuing a normal scheduled service – a move that has been met with criticism.
The Foreign Office is yet to advise against travel to Rhodes and Corfu, and the Greek government is encouraging people to come as normal.
Follow Metro.co.uk’s live blog for latest updates on wildfires in Greece
Holidaymakers sleep on the floor of Rhodes airport as they wait to leave the island
This has left people booked to fly out in the coming days confused as to whether they should go or not and what their rights are if they want to cancel or reschedule.
I’ve booked a holiday to Greece but don’t want to go, will I get a refund?
Unfortunately, when a government has not issued advice against travelling to a country, getting compensation for a flight or accommodation that has not been cancelled by an airline or holiday company is difficult.
Some will decide to offer a refund or the chance to reschedule, but in most circumstances they don’t have to.
If you have booked a package holiday, customers can potentially claim money back under the Package Travel Regulations, which states ‘if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occur at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity which significantly affect the performance of the package or the carriage of passengers to the destination’, reports Sky News.
Basically you need to prove that your holiday would be seriously affected by the current situation.
A burnt car sits in foreground of a charred forest near the village of Kiotari in Rhodes (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
Travel expert Simon Calder warned Brits who just don’t like the idea of being somewhere affected by the fires, then it may be seen as a ‘disinclination to travel’.
That means it’s unlikely you’ll get a full refund, though you may still get some compensation.
Simon recommends contacting your tour provider straight away to find out if your holiday has been cancelled and what they’re offering customers.
If you’ve booked an independent holiday you’ll need to contact each provider – the airline and hotel – to see whether they’re offering refunds or the opportunity to reschedule your trip.
Matthew Harwood from Confused.com told Metro: ‘If you’re due to fly to Rhodes, you should contact your airline as a first priority. If your flight is cancelled, the airline should offer you a full refund or give you the opportunity to book on a later flight.
Smoke billows in the background of Kiotari village, on Rhodes (Picture: Spyros Bakalis/AFP)
‘But be aware that if your flight isn’t yet cancelled, you may lose money if you choose to not fly.’
Would my travel insurance cover the costs if I decide not to go?
Sadly, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover your costs if your flights and accommodation have not been cancelled and you decided not travel.
Kevin Pratt, travel insurance expert at Forbes Advisor, said: ‘You wouldn’t have any joy claiming on your travel insurance if you simply decided you didn’t want to go – that would be deemed “disinclination to travel”, which isn’t covered by policies.
‘The only time your travel insurance might kick in is if the government advised against all but essential travel to a particular country or region – and that isn’t happening with the Greek islands at the moment.’
If you have stated a particular medical condition to your insurer you may be eligible for some compensation, depending on the policy.
Tourists line up at check-in counters as they wait for flights leaving Rhodes (Picture: Reuters)
Which airlines and travel providers are offering customers the chance to cancel?
EasyJet issued a statement to say that anyone due to depart for Rhodes up to and including July 29 can apply for a date change or a flight voucher for the amount they paid for their original flights.
Ryanair said it’s running a normal schedule because the airline is ‘unaffected by the forest fires’ and has not mentioned the possibility of refunds or rebooking flights.
British Airways said its flights were running as normal to both islands, but customers needing to return early could change their flight for free, and those not wishing to travel there in the next week from the UK could postpone their flight.
Thomas Cook confirmed it had cancelled all holidays to affected areas of Rhodes until the end of July 31, with full refunds offered. It said people due to travel to other parts of the island on Monday and Tuesday were being contacted with the option to cancel and receive a refund.
Tui has cancelled all its flights to Rhodes until the end of Tuesday, with customers being offered a refund or the opportunity to reschedule. Those due to travel on Wednesday can also get a refund or rebook if they wish.
Jet2 have cancelled all holidays to Rhodes until the end of Sunday, July 30, and said all customers are being offered a refund or the chance to travel on another date.
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