09.09.2016Thomas Cook among companies running operations as normal.
Travel firms are attempting to reassure customers due to fly out to Turkey that flights and holidays are operating as normal following this weekend’s failed coup. However, a company that helps people deal with holiday complaints said those due to head to the country in the next few days should be offered the chance to obtain a refund or amend their trip.
According to the Association of British Travel Agents, around 50,000 British holidaymakers are currently believed to be in Turkey.
Thomas Cook was offering free cancellations and amendments to customers due to fly out on Sunday 17 July, though the company has made clear that “normal terms and conditions” now apply.
In a statement posted on its website on Monday 18 July it said: “There has been no change to Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice regarding travel to Turkey following the events on Friday night. Our flight and holiday programme is operating as normal, and our staff on the ground in resort tell us is that everything is calm and customers are enjoying their holidays.” It added that any customers who were concerned should contact the company on 01733 224536.
In a joint statement, Thomson and First Choice said “normal booking conditions apply for all travel dates to Turkey”. They added that all flights departing on Monday 18 July 2016 were operating as normal, though they were continuing to “closely monitor the situation”.
Turkish Airlines has announced that for flights to and from the country between 15 July and 20 July inclusive, “all rebooking/re-routing will be made without any charge”, and for unused tickets “refund[s] will be made without any charge”. It said the validity of tickets can be extended until 15 August without penalty.
The FCO said the situation in Turkey appeared to be calming, but it added: “The security environment, however, remains potentially volatile. Following earlier disruption, flights to and from airports in Turkey are returning to normal, although some disruption remains and you should check with your airline or tour operator before travelling.”
It said travellers “should take extra care in public places – particularly those visited by foreigners” and added that apart from Marmaris on the south-west coast, “the coastal resorts do not appear to be significantly affected at present … Continue to exercise vigilance in resort areas.”
The Association of British Insurers has said that those booked to travel to Turkey should contact their tour operator, travel agent or airline for advice. It added: “If alternative arrangements are made, you should be able to transfer your travel insurance to the new destination.”
Meanwhile, HolidayTravelWatch, a company that helps people complain and make a claim if something goes wrong, argued that a “significant change” had arisen with holidays to Turkey.
Spokesman Frank Brehany said: “There is no question that British holidaymakers scheduled to travel to Turkey in the next few days will be concerned as to their safety, particularly as the effect of this coup is likely to last for some weeks ahead.”
He said it was therefore time for travel firms to “recognise their obligations” under the package travel regulations, which set out what happens when there are “significant alterations to essential terms”, and offer customers penalty-free refunds or cost-free changes to holidays.