LAWLINK – What are my rights to cancel holiday due to European heatwaves?

Airport departures timetable showing Delta and Alaska Airlines flights on time and boarding
Photo: Matthew Smith/Unsplash.

Q: My family and I have booked a trip to Greece in early September. This is our first trip abroad since the pandemic and we are really looking forward to it. We are very concerned however about the recent heatwave and fires that are occurring in Greece. We are worried too about waiting too long to cancel our holiday. What are our rights?


Dear Reader,

What your rights are in any specific instance would depend very much on how you booked your holiday, and would depend greatly on what the situation is on the ground at the relevant time.

At the moment, travel agents and package holiday companies are operating some holidays as normal, but some holidays in effected areas have had to be cancelled. This is very much dependent on the area to which these holidays are due to take place.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

If you booked a package holiday and it has to be cancelled, you will be entitled to a full refund. Your holiday provider also might be in a position to offer you an alternative, but you are not obliged to take it if your original destination is not available.

If the package operator confirms that your holiday can take place, you are not entitled to demand a change of location or a refund. That said, some tour operators are allowing refunds, reschedules, or offering another destination. There is no legal obligation to do so, however.

The situation is less clear if you booked your own flights and hotel. Again, if the flight is operating, legally you are not entitled to a change or refund – though specific airlines may well offer a refund of change of destination given the situation. You would need to deal with your hotel in Greece or booking intermediary who would generally deal with each on a case-by-case basis. Certain websites offer free cancellation up to a certain point, and you should ensure that you have all relevant information to hand.

You should also check whether your travel insurance covers any aspect of cancelling a trip. Again, if the trip is cancelled by your airline or package holiday provider, you are on safer ground to request repayment from your insurance company if necessary.

If flights and hotels are operating, but you would not feel comfortable travelling, you may not be able to claim. You should make contact with your insurance companies to check.

Lastly, it is worth bearing in mind that you have a few weeks before you travel and the situation on the ground in Greece appears to be changing quite rapidly. If you are concerned, you should check with the Department of Foreign Affairs, who issue travel advisory warnings for Irish citizens travelling to other countries.

You should also remain in close contact with your travel agents, airline, and hotel as necessary.