Travelling to orange or red zones: what if your trip is cancelled?
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Travelling to orange or red zones: what if your trip is cancelled?

Credit: Belga

Travel agencies and airlines are dealing with a lot of insecurity as destinations can get a different colour in Belgium’s traffic light system every day, but what happens when your trip is cancelled?

Tour operator TUI announced that it cancelled its trips to so-called “red zones,” which allowed travellers to get a refund. For orange zones, however, refunds are not possible.

The measures and recommendations for people going to and returning from orange zones have relaxed so many times since the traffic light system has been announced, according to TUI spokesperson Piet Demeyere, that changes are no longer necessary.

“Quarantine upon return is no longer even recommended since this morning,” he told The Brussels Times. “We do not really see the big difference with green anymore, to be honest, so we are not going to make any changes to our policy for orange zones either,” Demeyere said.

“For returning from orange zones, it is now recommended to consult your doctor if you show symptoms. That is what you should be doing anyway if you show symptoms, no matter which colour the area you return from has,” he added.

However, since the start of the crisis, TUI has worked with a policy allowing travellers to change the date and/or destination of booking. “This guarantee normally applies up to one week before departure, but in view of the constantly changing situation, we are now making an exception for people who leave this week,” he added.

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People who did not book their flight with a tour operator, however, cannot count on such guarantees if their destination changes colour. “If travellers choose not to travel anymore, but the flight is not cancelled, then it is up to them,” Kim Daenen, spokesperson for Brussels Airlines, told The Brussels Times.

Travellers who no longer want to go to a zone that has been marked red or orange can rebook their flights, as the airline is working with flexible tickets during the coronavirus crisis. People will only see their money back if the company is the one cancelling the flight.

“We cancel flights if we are not allowed to fly to the country, or if there is no demand at all due to official travel advice [by the Belgian state] against going there,” Daenen said. “We see that even if there is official advice against travelling somewhere, people still want to travel,” she added.

The company has seen that, in recent days, the demand for areas that are now considered red zones has decreased, but for the time being, flights will not be cancelled yet.

Additionally, travel insurance will not cover a trip cancelled for safety reasons, according to Assuralia, the umbrella organisation of insurers. “Usually, there are about 25 circumstances in which insurers intervene,” Wauthier Robyns of the organisation told Het Nieuwsblad. “Illness is one of them, but possible insecurity at your destination is not. The reason – riots, a virus, or anything else – doesn’t matter,” he added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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