Due to travel to Greece and unsure of your rights in the wildfires? Dean Dunham tells you everything you need to know

24 July 2023, 18:25 | Updated: 25 July 2023, 06:32

From travel insurance to compensation, here's everything you need to know about your travel rights.
From travel insurance to compensation, here's everything you need to know about your travel rights. Picture: Alamy
Dean Dunham

By Dean Dunham

Whether you're already in Greece or you want to cancel an upcoming trip, here's everything you need to know about your travel rights.

Wildfires are raging on the Greek island Rhodes, causing havoc for holidaymakers, many of whom have had to evacuate their hotels and flee to safety. Despite this, the UK Foreign Office still has not deemed it unsafe to travel to the island, leaving holiday makers uncertain of their rights if they either want to cancel a forthcoming trip to Rhodes or abandon their holiday early if they have already travelled.

Here's all you need to know:

Your rights to cancel if you haven’t yet travelled

Before doing anything, you should first check that your holiday is not going to be cancelled by the hotel or holiday provider/organiser. If it is, you will be entitled to a full refund, unless you accept an alternative holiday.

If your holiday is not cancelled and you booked a package holiday (i.e. travel and accommodation together), Section 12(7) of the Package Travel Regulations says holidaymakers can cancel and demand a full refund "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".

In my view, a wildfire in the vicinity of the area you are flying into, or staying at, falls squarely within this so could give you grounds to cancel with a full refund. Several holidays to Rhodes up to and including Sunday, July 30 have already been cancelled by operators. This is evidence which could support a claim that it is not safe to travel to Rhodes during this period.

If you did not book a package holiday you will not be protected by the Package Travel Regulations and instead will need to liaise with the individual providers of the elements of your holiday (flights, hotels etc.) and ascertain what the terms and conditions say about cancelling.

Your rights if you want to cut your holiday short

As matters currently stand, it is unlikely you will receive a refund if you cut your holiday short out of ‘choice’. Your holiday provider will therefore likely claim you did not need to do this as your accommodation was still available and habitable.

However, if the UK Government announces it is unsafe to travel to your location this will give you the right to fly home early and demand a partial refund.

Likewise, if you are not on a package holiday and the local authority announces it is unsafe, you can claim a partial refund from your accommodation and leave. However, you may struggle in these circumstances to change your flight arrangements free of charge.

Your rights to compensation if you have to abandon your holiday

Whilst you will be entitled to an appropriate price reduction to take account of the holiday being cut short, you are unlikely to receive compensation. In relation to a package holiday, this is because the Package Travel Regulations provide that compensation does not need to be paid in circumstances where the holiday was cut short due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and in my view the situation in Greece will fall within this.

If you are not on a package holiday, your hotel provider is likely to say this is a ‘force majeure’ event (act of God) and covered by its terms and conditions – the effect being it will have no liability.

Travel insurance

It is most unlikely that your travel insurance policy will contain a specific clause covering wildfires. Normally, a travel insurance policy will not cover you if you wish to cancel your flight or holiday, unless the UK Government has issued advice against travelling to a particular country. So far the UK Government has not done this regarding the wildfires in Greece.

That said, if you have a pre-existing medical condition which would be exacerbated by the extreme heat, you may be able to claim a refund under the terms of your insurance policy.

However, a word of warning, if you have a pre-existing medical condition that could be worsened by extreme heat, your insurance provider may use this as an excuse to reject a claim, stating you were on notice of the extreme heat before you travelled.

Your rights to assistance

The Package Travel Regulations placed an obligation on your tour operator to make suitable alternative arrangements, at no extra cost to you, for the continuation of your holiday. This could mean moving you to alternative safe accommodation or, if this is not possible, arranging transport for you to get back to the UK.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The AI images have not been directly linked to Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump supporters target African American voters with fake AI images in apparent attempt to sway black vote

Police have failed to solve nearly half of burglaries in England and Wales in the past three years.

Police 'failed to solve a single burglary in nearly half of all neighbourhoods’ in past three years despite chiefs' pledge

A man has been arrested on suspicion of arson

‘Get out! Get out!’ Dramatic moment police rescue residents as inferno engulfs London flats

Paul Scully has announced that he will not contest his seat at the next election

Paul Scully joins exodus of Tory MPs quitting at the next election

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivers a speech to business and construction representatives during a visit to Panattoni Park.

Rishi Sunak claims UK economy is getting 'on the right track' ahead of Spring Budget

Israel Palestinians

Israeli Cabinet member meets US officials as ceasefire talks get under way

France Abortion Right

French lawmakers gather for vote that will make abortion a constitutional right

Bear (L) is due to find out how much of his sex tape profits he must pay back

Stephen Bear arrives at court for confiscation hearing in 'Mexican Cartel' tracksuit after revenge porn conviction

The Middleton family have previously described the businessman as the "black sheep of the family".

'Kate doesn’t need this stress': Princess' uncle 'read riot act by Middletons' amid Celebrity Big Brother rumour

Gerhard Berger's stolen Ferrari has been found nearly 30 years after it was stolen

Gerhard Berger's £350,000 Ferrari stolen in 1995 recovered by police 28 years later

October Rain is the leading song choice, with Dance Forever in second place.

Israel agrees to change controversial October Rain lyrics ahead of Eurovision 2024

Dame Priti Patel told LBC there should be a government review into how the police watchdog is working

‘Corrupt’ minority of police ‘using their position to do terrible things,’ former Home Sec Dame Priti Patel tells LBC

APTOPIX Haiti Violence

Haiti declares a curfew as it tries to restore order after weekend jailbreak

Thailand Politics

Thai court acquits former PM over mishandling of government funds

The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 could be renewed

Families of passengers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 given new hope of answers

Germany Nursing Home Fire

Four dead and at least 21 injured in nursing home fire in western Germany