A number of airlines have cancelled flights amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but what does this mean for holidaymakers who need to make the return journey home?

In some cases, UK citizens were stranded throughout Europe after flights were cancelled by various airlines including; Ryanair, easyJet and Jet2.

In circumstances like this, airlines have a duty of care towards passengers and are responsible for re-booking them on an alternative flight or providing a full refund on all unused parts of the ticket.

As countries in Europe begin closing their borders to contain coronavirus, holidaymakers stuck abroad begin expressing their concerns. Speaking to The Independent, Heidi Edmundson said she received an email from Ryanair stating that her flight had been cancelled and that she “has not been able to get hold of Ryanair since.” Her flight was due back on Saturday 21st March 2020; Heidi has yet to have been offered an alternative.

Ryanair has since released a statement on its website urging ‘all customers who are seeking to return home to avail of the free flight change and book a flight due to travel before 25 March when our schedule will be cut by at least 80%.’ 

In another instance, Anne Beattie spoke to The Independent regarding her trip back from Portugal – as she was due to fly back to the UK on 26th March 2020. Ann received an email from Jet2 informing her that her flight back to the UK had been cancelled and she would receive a refund in due course. The airline went on to say,

If you are currently overseas and looking to return home, we have a limited number of flights on some routes departing between now and Saturday 21 March 2020. Please check Jet2.com for more information.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has currently updated its travel advice for those abroad to,

If you wish to leave the country you are in, contact your airline or travel company and your insurance provider as soon as you are able, and keep up to date with the latest developments. International travel may become more difficult. We only organise assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”

Those holidaymakers who are currently abroad should contact their airline regarding return flights home. In the event of a cancellation, airlines are responsible for re-booking passengers on alternative flights as soon as possible. Failing this, travellers should contact their tour operator who can also make the necessary travel arrangements to bring people back home.

Will my travel insurance cover me?

Those who are unable to recuperate costs are advised to check the cover available under their travel insurance policy. If their flight back to the UK has been cancelled, and passengers are stranded abroad, then some travel insurance policies will contribute towards the cost of food and additional accommodation, some may also include cover for the additional costs of getting home. The cover available will differ between insurers, so it is best to speak to them directly or check your policy documentation.

Visit out Coronavirus FAQ’s page for more information.