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Coronavirus Advice - London to Manila via Beijing with Air China

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Coronavirus Advice - London to Manila via Beijing with Air China

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u06mse8u06mse8 Forumite
6 posts
First Post
Hi guys,

First post here, but I've used you guys for advice for a long time, so thank you.

We are due to travel from London (LHR) to Manila (MNL) via Beijing (PEK) on the 28th of February with Air China.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus the FCO are obviously recommending against all but essential travel through China, and I believe Phillippines are looking to now quarantine arrivals from Mainland China.

Air China haven't technically cancelled those flights yet, but are offering free refunds for our flights; however, we booked through an online travel agency (TravelUp) and they are saying that I will only receive about 80% of my payment back as a result of underlying fees.

Q1. Is this expected? Is there some way I can recover that cost? Seems rather shady to me...

I spoke to my travel insurance company, Fit2Travel, where I have the highest level of insurance (Platinum) and they have said that we won't be covered by them for a penny because they don't cover under "the fear of an epidemic, pandemic, infection or allergic reaction". Not only that, any of the hotel bookings etc. that I have made will also not be covered.

Q2. If I was to wait for the flights to actually be canceled as opposed to the current stance of Air China offering a "kind gesture" of free refunds, would I be entitled to the full amount back from the travel agency or not? Would I be able to claim via EU261 claim form?

Q3. What if I was to book separately now, but the flight actually still went ahead? I guess I would lose that cash and couldn't reclaim it via insurance anyway as they've stated.

I do have the cash to book another set of flights directly or via Dubai/Qatar/Middle East etc., but I do need to find a way to reclaim the vast majority of the initial capital spent on flights.

Q4. Is the best option to book now via another carrier (Phillippines Air, direct, or Emirates, via Dubai, etc.) or is there another approach that I'm not thinking of that I could take?

**EDIT - There is another, riskier option, I think - we wait for the flight to be canceled and then push Air China to reroute us. Is this a totally off the wall suggestion?**

Thanks very much in advance,

G
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Replies

  • Caz3121Caz3121 Forumite
    13.6K posts
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    u06gr8 wrote: »
    Air China haven't technically cancelled those flights yet, but are offering free refunds for our flights; however, we booked through an online travel agency (TravelUp) and they are saying that I will only receive about 80% of my payment back as a result of underlying fees.

    Q1. Is this expected? Is there some way I can recover that cost? Seems rather shady to me...
    Travelup administration fees are £75 per person
    whether that equates to 20% will depend on the cost of your ticket
    Had you booked direct with the airline you would receive 100% back

    u06gr8 wrote: »
    Q2. If I was to wait for the flights to actually be canceled as opposed to the current stance of Air China offering a "kind gesture" of free refunds, would I be entitled to the full amount back from the travel agency or not? Would I be able to claim via EU261 claim form?
    The Travelup administration fee would still apply
    One of the downsides of choosing to engage a middleman between you and the airline. Travelup is the airlines customer, they will receive any refund and are going to deduct the fees you agreed to before passing it to you (the situation is not your fault but it is also not their fault and they don't work for free)
    EU261 compensation does not apply as more than 14 days notice.
    Refunds are dealt with via your chosen agent
  • MATTR5MATTR5 Forumite
    789 posts
    Seventh Anniversary 500 Posts Photogenic Holiday Haggler
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    If its against FCO advice to travel then your Insurance company should pay - I'd pursue that bit - eg https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/case-studies/insurer-wont-pay-holiday-cancellation-claim

    Also - Please learn from this and DONT book with these terrible online agencies that make their money from these Fees - You would have been much better off booking with the Airline direct with a Credit Card or a Travel Agency like mine where we dont charge fees (Midcounties Coop)

    And don't book hotels and flights separate with elements you cant cancel - this is whats ATOL for!! - Sorry but you can cost yourself money by trying to save too much

    Mattr5
    I am a Travel Agent
    My company’s ABTA/ATOL numbers are G9172/6053. MSE doesn't check my status as a Travel Agent, so you need to take my word for it. You can check my ATOL with the CAA. This signature is here as I follow MSE's Travel Agent Code of Conduct.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    Did you pay by card?

    If the flights were actually cancelled then you would be entitled to 100 per cent of what you paid, and so could use charge-back with a debit or credit card to reclaim this.
  • u06mse8u06mse8 Forumite
    6 posts
    First Post
    Caz3121 wrote: »
    EU261 compensation does not apply as more than 14 days notice.
    Refunds are dealt with via your chosen agent

    What if the flights were cancelled on or after the 14th of February? Would I then be entitled to reimbursement? And to what level? The cost minus £75 per head, or the full value?
    MATTR5 wrote: »
    If its against FCO advice to travel then your Insurance company should pay - I'd pursue that bit - eg LINK

    Also - Please learn from this and DONT book with these terrible online agencies that make their money from these Fees - You would have been much better off booking with the Airline direct with a Credit Card or a Travel Agency like mine where we dont charge fees (Midcounties Coop)

    And don't book hotels and flights separate with elements you cant cancel - this is whats ATOL for!! - Sorry but you can cost yourself money by trying to save too much

    Thanks for the advice on contacting the financial ombudsman. I will be sure to do that IF we get to that stage.

    In terms of booking a "package", that's fine if we're going on a quick holiday in the sun to the Canaries, but it doesn't really work out for traveling around the Philippines. Of course there's a slight risk involved, but if you want to go "off the beaten track" so to speak, there's got to be some self-planning. The decision was taken not to penny-pinch, but to plan our own adventure.
    Did you pay by card?

    If the flights were actually cancelled then you would be entitled to 100 per cent of what you paid, and so could use charge-back with a debit or credit card to reclaim this.

    Yes - they were bought using an AMEX so I may have a conversation with them and see if they can offer advice. They're usually very good.
  • koalakoalakoalakoala Forumite
    260 posts
    100 Posts Second Anniversary
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    I assume you booked through travelup to save money originally, so you can't really complain about their fees. I personally wouldn't want to travel through China, but then I wouldn't have booked with China airlines in the first place. I think your best bet is to take the refund minus the 20%
  • u06mse8u06mse8 Forumite
    6 posts
    First Post
    Thanks for the help so far guys.

    If I was to book another route, would there be a case for me to claim the difference in costs between the initial flight (for arguments, let's say £300) and the new flight (£750) bookings?

    i.e. Would I theoretically be able to claim the £450 difference if timings/dates/number of stops etc. are similar?
  • sazaccountsazaccount Forumite
    502 posts
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Posts
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    Have you asked Air China if they are able to move you to one of their partner airlines as they are part of star alliance? It maybe unlikely but the worse answer you could get is a no...
    Thanks to money saving tips and debt repayments/becoming debt free I have been able to work and travel for the last 4 years visiting 12 countries and working within 3 of them. Currently living and working in Canada :beer: :dance:
  • u06mse8u06mse8 Forumite
    6 posts
    First Post
    sazaccount wrote: »
    Have you asked Air China if they are able to move you to one of their partner airlines as they are part of star alliance? It maybe unlikely but the worse answer you could get is a no...

    Not happening at the minute, I can understand why. The flight hasn't technically been canceled yet, but still offering free refund.
  • lolat332lolat332 Forumite
    762 posts
    Hi guys Im in a similar position as I am booked with cathay Pacific to fly to Cebu (Philippines) via Hong Kong on the same day.

    what compounds it is that I hadn't sorted travel/holiday insurance yet.

    the booking was done through a local travel agent - sta travel.

    any advice please. of course the cathay helpline is permanently engaged
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