Travelling to Israel & Airline refusing full refund

Crystalpalacian1
Crystalpalacian1 Posts: 22
First Post Name Dropper
Forumite
edited 11 October 2023 at 10:58AM in Flights, currency & car hire
Hello 

Just a quick query, I am travelling to Tel Aviv in 2 weeks to spend 2 days there and then travelling on to another country, however the current UK government travel advice is to only travel to Israel if it is essentially. I booked the first flight directly flight with Virgin Atlantic and the second via an online agent, but I have now decided to cancel both as the person I was meant to visit has left there amid the conflicts. 

However, Virgin said they will charge me to cancel the flight as they are still operating to TLV and the travel agent is refusing to even contemplate giving any form of refund saying my flight is non-refundable / non-changeable. Surely this must be an 'exceptional circumstance' and all refunds must be given in full. I don't care if the flight is still operating but I will not go to a war zone and I feel that I am being penalised for making this decision despite the government advice. I have explained that my travel to Israel is not essential. 

Anybody else in the same boat and what are my options?

Thanks 

«1345

Comments

  • Voyager2002
    Voyager2002 Posts: 15,226
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    Insurance?
  • Wonka_2
    Wonka_2 Posts: 610
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    edited 9 October 2023 at 9:07PM
    Given the uk.gov advice still allows travel (advice is just that and airlines will continue to operate to service that 'essential travel') then you're not likely to get any joy from the airline. Where was your 2nd flight to and who was it with (although given you've booked via an online agent I'm not expecting you'll have much joy there unless it's actually cancelled)

    Do you have insurance covering such circumstances ?

    And options ? Unless you'll get a significant chunk back from Virgin in taxes etc then I'd leave it till closer the time in the hope that the advice changes or it's cancelled 
  • Thanks but I haven't got travel insurance yet given my flight is not for another two & half weeks. I do have home, life and credit card insurance (BA Amex Premium Plus), I was thinking of contacting Amex anyway. What particular insurance were you thinking of? I normally buy travel insurance about a week from travelling. 

    The second flight is to the Seychelles via Air Seychelles but booked through an online agent, I did contact them and they advised me to contact Air Seychelles directly, I did today but no response so far. One of my friends is a pilot at Air Seychelles and he has said that the airline has decided today not to keep any crew in hotels in Tel Aviv as they normally do, they leave on the same flight they come on now, he thinks other airlines are likely to do the same. It would a bit hypocritical to not allow crew stopping over in Tel Aviv on safety ground but still refuse passengers who don't feel safe going there a full refund. If it's not safe for their crew, why will it be for others?
  • bagand96
    bagand96 Posts: 6,025
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    edited 9 October 2023 at 10:41PM
    As others have pointed out, Government advice is advice and it doesn't force the airline to let you cancel for a full refund.

    For your flight to TLV with Virgin I would be tempted to leave it and see how the situation develops. They may bring in a waiver that allows people to change flights or get credit. They may cancel the flight in which case you would get a refund. These are only possibilities, but you have nothing to lose. 

    For your second flight, this will be much harder. You've booked a flight from TLV to a third country. So Air Seychelles/ the OTA have no responsibility to you in respect to UK Gov advice on travel TO Israel.

    Thanks but I haven't got travel insurance yet given my flight is not for another two & half weeks. I do have home, life and credit card insurance (BA Amex Premium Plus), I was thinking of contacting Amex anyway. What particular insurance were you thinking of? I normally buy travel insurance about a week from travelling. 
    You should buy Travel Insurance as soon as you book a ticket. Depending on the policy you buy Travel Insurance can cover you for a number of circumstances before travel, not just for when you're away.

    For example if you have an illness meaning you want to cancel your trip. Or if your destination becomes a war zone and the UK Government advise against travel there. 
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,765
    Academoney Grad Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Ambassador
    I would wait. I can’t see the current atrocities ending within your timescale. Whereas virgin are happy to run a scaled back service to TLV at the moment, they are doing so because there is demand - people in Israel desperately wanting to get out and Israeli’s needing to return home, particularly reserve soldiers. In 2 weeks time, neither of those reasons to travel will exist, so virgin may well decide to cancel more flights or put a travel waiver in place.
    I'm a Forum Ambassador on The Coronavirus Boards as well as the housing, mortgages and student money saving boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Forum Ambassadors are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.
  • Thanks, I've done some research and an armed conflict is considered as an 'exceptional circumstance' and all travels are at your own risk (given the UK government advice). Well I don't want to take the risk and I think that this is a reasonable argument. Legally, a claim to a small claims court is highly likely to succeed, if the government went through the trouble of updating its travel advice to Israel, I doubt it should be taken with a pinch of salt by airlines, I suppose banning travel completely would infringe the rights of certain people so it must be done cautiously and as a very last resort but that does not make it ok for airlines to say normal rules apply to those who booked their flights before the outbreak of the conflicts and no longer wish to travel following the recent events. 
    bagand96 said:

    For your second flight, this will be much harder. You've booked a flight from TLV to a third country. So Air Seychelles/ the OTA have no responsibility to you in respect to UK Gov advice on travel TO Israel.
    This was through a UK agent and my credit card was charged in the UK not in the Seychelles. 

    I think I will speak to Amex tomorrow, as I used their paid credit card which comes with extra benefits, at the very least they might be able to do a charge back. I'm sorry but I'm not prepared to travel to a war zone willingly and just accept the penalty for not wanting to, this is not ok in anyone's book. Just because the airline is jumping off a cliff, doesn't mean I must jump with them. 
  • Thanks @silvercar this was exactly what I was thinking about regarding the current demands but the problem with waiting is that I can't book alternative flights to the Seychelles, I must be there by a certain date for a special occasion. What if Virgin don't refund eventually? I hate doing things last minute. 
  • phatbear
    phatbear Posts: 4,030
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Forumite
    Thanks @silvercar this was exactly what I was thinking about regarding the current demands but the problem with waiting is that I can't book alternative flights to the Seychelles, I must be there by a certain date for a special occasion. What if Virgin don't refund eventually? I hate doing things last minute. 

    Ironic that you dont like doing things last minute but you havent got travel insurance yet!

    I wish you luck with amex as this wouldnt be a situation that charge back would apply as the supplier has not failed to provide the service you have paid for therefore chargeback is not applicable, also it would be unlikely that travel insurance would have covered you anyway as this is a case of “disinclination to travel”

    as others have said i would wait it out and hope the FCO put it on the list for non-travel


    Live each day like its your last because one day you'll be right
  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,582
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Forumite
    Thanks, I've done some research and an armed conflict is considered as an 'exceptional circumstance' and all travels are at your own risk (given the UK government advice). Well I don't want to take the risk and I think that this is a reasonable argument. Legally, a claim to a small claims court is highly likely to succeed, if the government went through the trouble of updating its travel advice to Israel, I doubt it should be taken with a pinch of salt by airlines, I suppose banning travel completely would infringe the rights of certain people so it must be done cautiously and as a very last resort but that does not make it ok for airlines to say normal rules apply to those who booked their flights before the outbreak of the conflicts and no longer wish to travel following the recent events. 
    bagand96 said:

    For your second flight, this will be much harder. You've booked a flight from TLV to a third country. So Air Seychelles/ the OTA have no responsibility to you in respect to UK Gov advice on travel TO Israel.
    This was through a UK agent and my credit card was charged in the UK not in the Seychelles. 

    at the very least they might be able to do a charge back
    A chargeback is only likely to work if the flight does not actually happen - otherwise the airline is providing the service and it is you choosing not to travel.

  • phatbear said:

    Ironic that you dont like doing things last minute but you havent got travel insurance yet!
    Pardon me but I thought we were here to help and advise fellow forumites not bash them with unhelpful comments. In fact, I'm pretty sure my Amex card include travel insurance, nonetheless, I wouldn't call at least week a before as 'last minute', that would a day before or a few hours before. 

    Unless you've been living on a different planet for the last 50 years, with the current UK - Israeli diplomatic relation, it is highly unlikely the UK government will ban travel to Israel entirely unless WWIII is about to break out. However, I think I'll pass on a suicide mission, so I'll pursue with my fight as I have taken the government advice of NOT TO TRAVEL UNLESS FOR ESSENTIAL REASON, meeting up with an old friend is not essential for me, in any case he's fled Israel so my trip there would futile anyhow. 
This discussion has been closed.
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 341.8K Banking & Borrowing
  • 249.7K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 449.2K Spending & Discounts
  • 233.9K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 606.1K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 172.5K Life & Family
  • 246.8K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.8K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards