Your rights when Covid cancels your holiday plans
Your rights if your holiday gets a red light.
Your rights if your holiday gets a red light.
Big events (more than 100 people) could be postponed or cancelled if the holiday spot goes from orange to red.
Localised lockdowns could also come into play if regional healthcare systems are overrun with Covid cases.
So, what are your rights if your holiday plans change?
First, check the terms and conditions you were given when you made your booking.
Look for a clause that states what happens if the accommodation can’t be used due to events outside the control of either party (such as a lockdown). These terms sometimes use the words “force majeure”.
If the contract unfairly favours the business – for example, taking a sizable chunk of your money – the contract risks breaching the Fair Trading Act.
What if you’re entitled to a refund but your accommodation provider refuses? Ask your bank about a chargeback (a refund to your card) if you paid by credit or debit card.
If there’s nothing in the terms that state what happens in a lockdown situation, then you can rely on the Contract and Commercial Law Act.
This act applies where a contract is “frustrated” – that is, it can’t be fulfilled due to events outside the parties’ control. It gives you the right to request a refund and limits what the company can charge to its reasonable administration costs.
In March, a Consumer NZ member successfully took an Airbnb host to the Disputes Tribunal after the host refused a refund for a booking cancelled because of the August 2020 lockdown.
No. Terms and conditions only form part of the deal if they were provided to you prior to making the booking.
Providers can’t just make up terms to suit themselves when circumstances change. The terms need to have been in place at the time the contract was made and any attempt to impose a new one on a consumer is likely to breach the Fair Trading Act.
If you want to postpone your trip or cancel it altogether, check the terms and conditions of your booking.
The company may charge you to change the date of your booking, or to cancel it, but can only do this if the terms and conditions allow.
Companies can’t just charge whatever they like, though. A term allowing a company to charge a steep cancellation fee risks being unfair and breaching the Fair Trading Act.
Air New Zealand allows customers to change flights prior to departure but will charge a $50 fee unless you’ve purchased a “flexichange” or “flexirefund” fare.
You may also need to pay the difference if you rebook on a more expensive flight. Only its “flexirefund” fare is fully refundable.
JetStar is waiving its change fee for travel booked between 17 September and 31 December 2021. This applies to any travel until 30 June 2023. But you will need to cover any fare difference when you rebook.
Check the terms and conditions of the company you’ve booked with.
With the Interislander, customers who can’t travel or wish to postpone their travel plans because of Covid restrictions can get a refund, or reschedule their sailing.
You just need to get in touch with the Interislander at least two hours before the scheduled sailing.
If you’re unable to travel because of a localised lockdown, or you have to isolate,
Bluebridge will either transfer your booking or provide a 12-month credit.
You can only get a full refund with a Flexi Sail fare. The Super Sail fare offers a 50% refund, while the Saver Sail is non-refundable.
If a region gets the red light, only events of up to 100 vaccinated people are allowed.
If a show is cancelled, you should get a refund from the ticket agent. Check with the agent about what’s happening.
Refunds will normally be made to the credit or debit card you used to purchase the tickets. If your card details have changed, you’ll need to provide the ticket agent with your updated details. You may be able to do this via its website.
Some shows may be postponed rather than cancelled. If the new date doesn't suit, you should get a refund of the ticket price.
Ticket agents aren’t required to compensate you for other costs, such as airline tickets or accommodation. You'll need to contact the airline or hotel about a refund or credit.
If you bought a package deal – say, a travel-and-ticket combo – contact the seller of that package.
If you haven’t heard from the ticket agent, it may be because it’s dealing with a large number of inquiries.
Check the event website for updates or call the ticket agent directly.
However, if the agent has refused to do anything, and you paid by credit or debit card, you may be able to get a chargeback (a refund to your card). Contact your bank or card issuer about this.