Coronavirus FAQs

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Update

Update: February 23rd, 2021

On Monday 22nd February, the UK Government announced its roadmap for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. As part of this announcement it was confirmed that international leisure travel will not resume until May 17th at the earliest.

For all customers due to depart before May 17th, unfortunately your holiday can no longer go ahead as originally planned. We are contacting all customers with affected bookings in departure date order to discuss your options.

For customers due to travel on or after May 17th, as things stand your booking will be going ahead as planned. The Government has confirmed that they will provide another update on the 12th April, at which point we will likely have more clarity around 2021 Summer Holidays.

We appreciate your patience during this time.


Getting in touch

Our phone lines are open Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm, and our colleagues in our contact centre have been busy speaking to customers, particularly those whose travel is most affected. In addition to these core hours we are working Monday-Friday 8am-6pm answering questions and sending messages to customers who are looking for clarification on any upcoming holidays. Please be patient as we will contact all affected customers.


General

Can I change the dates on my booking?

If you have concerns about a future booking, it may be possible for us to change the dates of your holiday. Please send us a message via the 'My Sunshine' section of the website and our agents will investigate the possibility of moving your dates and then will get in touch to discuss your options. Please be aware, however, that we do not set the prices for flights or hotels, as these are set by the airlines and hoteliers respectively. Therefore any price increase to dates being changed is as result of the pricing policies of these suppliers and not Sunshine.co.uk.

The above advice also applies to requests to change destinations.


What happens if my hotel is closed?

Where flights continue to operate, these are non-refundable. To protect package organisers and customers then where hotels are closed, package organisers are obliged to provide suitable alternative accommodation. A suitable alternative is deemed to be of the same or higher star rating (and quality), the same board basis and a similar location.

The relevant clause in the Package Travel Directive is as follows: Where, following commencement of the package, significant proportions of the package cannot be performed, alternatives offered should be at no extra cost and should, where possible, be of equivalent or higher quality than those specified in the original contract. If the organiser is constrained to propose alternative arrangements of a lower quality, the organiser must grant an appropriate price reduction. Travellers may choose to reject alternative arrangements only if they are not comparable with those originally agreed, or the price reduction offered is inadequate.

A change of hotel is not a major change that triggers the cancellation of the package and so where hotels are closed but flights are operating, suitable alternatives are being booked for all guests for the duration of their stay. Our operations team continues to deal with these in departure date order to ensure that all guests have suitable accommodation for their stay.


How do I know if my flight is cancelled?

The operations and service teams have been working around the clock to update our systems with the flight cancellations as the airlines move through their forward programmes and notify the cancellation of any flights that are not operating. Whilst these are updated in system, any balance payments are suspended as we work out whether each holiday is proceeding as planned. Where the flights are confirmed cancelled then you will be notified via outbound email and we can begin the process of commencing the application for a refund.


What is the UK Government's position on cancellations?

On the government’s website they reference the following when advising how travel companies use the FCO advice:

“Travel companies and airlines often take our advice into account but the decision to cancel or reschedule a flight, holiday, tour or excursion is a decision that can only be taken by the travel company and the customer. The question of refunds is a matter that must be resolved between the customer and the relevant airline, tour operator or travel agent. We don’t dictate when travel can or can’t take place.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-the-foreign-commonwealth-office-puts-together-travel-advice.)

Coronavirus FAQs

We appreciate you may have some further concerns about your holiday and have laid out some additional FAQs below.

Refunds

How are refunds being managed?
Where holidays are cancelled, we are able to refund any monies paid for hotels and transfers within 2-4 weeks. These refunds are automatically added to your booking and an email will be sent to tell you how to claim. Where monies are owed for cancelled flights, we are doing our best to refund as soon as we receive from the airlines but with many millions of refunds to process across the industry and the workloads created by the changing travel advice, the refund process is slower than it should be and for this we apologise.

Sunshine pays for flights for all of its customers in full at the time the booking is made. In order to protect you in the event of cancellation, Sunshine is obliged by the Package Travel Regulations to refund cancellations within 14 days, but this assumes that airlines will have refunded within 7 days in line with the requirements on airlines under EU261. Airlines have not complied with this law for the last 4 months and Sunshine has been one of the loudest advocates lobbying regulators and government to get them to impose the law for the benefit of all consumers. Clearly travel companies cannot afford to refund flight monies without receipt of refunds from airlines and of course those airlines that we are waiting on refunds from are many times bigger than us and have had billions of pounds worth of support to ensure that they can pay these refunds via us to you.



Why have I not received my refund in full?
Your refund will be completed in two stages:

  • We will first be returning any monies paid towards the cost of your hotel and transfer. This refund will be paid in cash and will be credited to the payment card used at the time of booking.
  • Your flight costs will be refunded once we have received these from your airline. We are in contact with your airline to confirm that these also will be paid in cash. We are unable to commit to any time frame for this element of your refund as this is down to your airline themselves, however please be assured that we will pass this over to you as soon as we receive it.


Why do I not have a refund pending in 'My Sunshine'?
If you do not have a pending refund showing on your 'My Sunshine' page this is because we have not yet received your refund from the airline.


How can I claim a refund for any extra costs associated with my flight?
If you have paid your airline for any extras (for example, priority boarding or additional luggage) then these will have been paid using your own payment card and the cost should have been refunded directly to you. If you have not yet received a refund for these extra costs then you will need to speak to your airline.

Payments/cancellations

Do I still need to make my next instalment payment?

You should ensure you keep up with instalment payments as per the original booking terms and conditions. Failure to keep up with payments may result in the holiday being cancelled and subject to cancellation fees. Where we cancel your holiday in these circumstances, you will not have ATOL protection, nor will your holiday be covered under the Package Travel Regulations. If the information from the airlines then later changes and your flight is cancelled you will not be entitled to a refund as we will have already cancelled your holiday.

My holiday has been cancelled – why does it still show as ‘confirmed’?

We are working through a considerable number of bookings and, as such, our online system may be slightly delayed in reflecting the status of your booking. If you have received an email from us confirming that your holiday has been cancelled, then no further action is required and this will show on our system shortly.

My flights have not been cancelled by my airline however I wish to cancel my holiday. How much will this cost me?
Cancellation costs will vary depending on when you are due to travel and the type of holiday purchased. For full cancellation costs please log into the ‘My Sunshine’ area of the website where you can see a full breakdown of costs and – if you wish to cancel – submit a cancellation request.

I am unable to maintain payments due to redundancy or my wages being reduced. Can we delay payments?
When you log into the ‘My Sunshine’ area of the website, there is an option to change the date of your next instalment payment. If you are unable to make a payment, as per the original booking terms and conditions, you will need to send us a message through ‘My Sunshine’.

Can I remove individuals from the booking, rather than cancel entirely?
You can make changes to your booking by logging into the ‘My Sunshine’ area of the website. Please be aware that amendment charges will apply as per the original booking terms and conditions.

Customer protection

What will my travel insurance cover?
It's always extremely important to take out travel insurance whenever you plan to travel. In regards to Coronavirus, you should refer to the individual policy of insurers to check if you're covered. If you have a Sunshine travel insurance policy please see our dedicated FAQs page for a complete breakdown of your coverage.


Am I covered by ATOL?
If you have booked a flight-inclusive package holiday, you are financially-covered by ATOL.

Other

What happens if I catch the virus on holiday?
In the event that you do feel unwell whilst abroad, we ask that you comply with instructions given by the health authorities. For the latest advice, please visit the FCO website.

What happens if we are quarantined when we are on holiday?
You can find up to date information on the FCO website.

What happens if there is an outbreak whilst I am away?
You can find up to date information on the FCO website.

Planning for your holiday

Travelling soon or thinking about booking your next trip? Find out what safety measures will be in place to ensure you have a brilliant beach break. 

What happens if my chosen hotel is unavailable?
Where flights continue to operate, these are non-refundable. To protect package organisers and customers where hotels are closed, package organisers are obliged to provide suitable alternative accommodation. A suitable alternative is deemed to be of the same or higher star rating (and quality), the same board basis and a similar location.

The relevant clause in the Package Travel Directive is as follows: Where, following commencement of the package, significant proportions of the package cannot be performed, alternatives offered should be at no extra cost and should, where possible, be of equivalent or higher quality than those specified in the original contract. If the organiser is constrained to propose alternative arrangements of a lower quality, the organiser must grant an appropriate price reduction. Travellers may choose to reject alternative arrangements only if they are not comparable with those originally agreed, or the price reduction offered is inadequate.

A change of hotel is not a major change that triggers the cancellation of the package and so where hotels are closed but flights are operating, suitable alternatives are being booked for all guests for the duration of their stay. Our operations team continues to deal with these in departure date order to ensure that all guests have suitable accommodation for their stay.


What new health and safety measures are airports and airlines implementing?
From the moment you arrive at the airport, your wellbeing comes first. New measures have been introduced, such as readily available hand sanitiser stations throughout airports, and all planes will be disinfected thoroughly between each flight. At some airports you can even pre-book security slots to avoid the queues.

Holidaymakers will be expected to wear masks and all boarding passes must be presented on a mobile device, rather than a print-out. Additional checks may be in place, so giver yourself plenty of time to get through the airport. It’s important that you check the websites of both your airline and departure airport for the most up-to-date information on this before you travel.


How are hotels preparing for holidays to resume?
As hotels prepare to reopen, destination governments have been working hard to keep the safety and security of customers in mind. Each of them have put a set of stringent requirements in place for hotels to re-open this summer.

As you may have seen in the news, most holiday regions are now already opening up ahead of the UK. This means you’ll still be able to enjoy your stay to the fullest (in a socially distanced way, of course). Some hotel facilities may be adapted or stay closed until they can open safely. Please check with your chosen hotel for more details on what to expect upon arrival.


Will all the facilities at my hotel be open?
Our hotels are reopening and, with that, we are committed to ensuring that all of our guests can enjoy their holidays to their fullest, whilst maintaining the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

You may find that, for the time being, some destinations and resorts will have their own hygiene requirements and certain amenities will temporarily be limited or unavailable. Rest assured that these are simply precautionary measures and shouldn’t get in the way of you enjoying your beach break.

As a result of this, some of the information on our website may not always be entirely accurate; however, we will do our very best to keep you updated with any changes to your individual booking. If there is a significant change to your hotel, we will be in touch with your options.


What can I do to protect myself while I'm away?
The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority. The best way to protect yourself while you enjoy your holiday is to continue to follow advice from the World Health Organisation and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.


What happens if there's a case of Covid-19 in the hotel I'm due to travel to in the next 14 days?
Rest assured that in the unlikely event that your chosen hotel is affected by Covid-19 before you travel, we will do everything we can to find you an alternative you’ll love.


Are there any restrictions in place from local authorities in resort?
We advise that, before booking, you check any travel restrictions that may be in place for your chosen destination. You can view this on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website. Please follow any government advice while you are in resort, too.


Do I need any additional documentation to travel?
Some destination airports may require you to follow specific protocols whilst travelling and upon arrival. For further information about this please see our airport measures page.

For any passengers travelling with Enter Air, there may be some additional declaration forms required. Please see their website for further information.


What if my chosen destination has a two week quarantine upon arrival?
The situation overseas is changing constantly and more and more restrictions are being lifted. If, when you are due to travel, there are quarantine measures in place in your destination and you have booked a package holiday with us (flight+hotel), we will work to find you an alternative.


Will I need to quarantine when I return to the UK?
The government has announced that there is no longer a 14-day quarantine in place for travelers returning from destinations with a reduced risk of Covid-19 transmission. For a full list of all destinations which are exempt from quarantine rules please see the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.


I have transfers arranged whilst on holiday - what safety measures will be in place?
Our transfers partner has put together this useful guide highlighting the precautions and safety measures that they are taking to ensure your wellbeing whilst abroad.
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