$A450,000 for Sydney to London

Now that airspace is open again, the great return home begins. With a cruise ship in Bilbao, the Navy mixing returning troops from Afghanistan with holidaymakers and ferries, Eurostar and hire cars doing exceptional business, there are stories about how much people are spending.

According to today’s Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, some people are looking to hire a jet for $A450,000 (say £270,000) to fly home from Australia to the UK. Except as you read the story, the truth is that enquiries have been made but the company can’t point to any firm orders. It looks like a good headline to capture people’s attention so maybe that is all it is.

But some people have spent hundreds if not thousands on trying to return to their homes. It’s not just us Brits and Irish returning home. Just about every nationality has been affected. People have, at best, been able to stay with friends and families so only additional living costs have been involved. The more unlucky have had to pay for additional hotel nights. The worst affected have paid for hire cars, chauffeur cars, trains and coaches to get them to places like ferry terminals of Madrid in the hope they will find it easier to get back home from there.

So what chance is there for passengers getting these costs back? If you had spent $A450,000 on returning to Britain, I think I’m pretty safe in saying you haven’t got the proverbial cat’s chance of getting it back. Most airlines will rebook at no additional charge. As regards itemised expenses, Ryanair will pay those but not compensation. Some press reports this morning say that Ryanair will not adhere to EU rules and pay for accommodation but this is not the case. Tui (Thomson/First Choice/Crystal) has said they won’t pay the difference if passengers are on more expensive flights. But the Air Transport Users Council thinks that is wrong.

And the Association of British Insurers has said travel insurance companies should judge cases on an individual basis which means they are ducking the issue. It all comes down to what your policy says on delay and cancellation and whether this was an Act of God. As mentioned in an earlier piece, Direct Line says it will pay out on its policies and HSBC has run advertisements in this morning’s press saying that they will waive the Act of God clause. And NatWest has texted to say if customers have problems, contact them and they will refund overseas cash advances, ATM fees etc. Halifax and Lloyds have also put on its website that it consider goodwill payments despite the fact that its travel insurance policies do not cover this. Barclays travel insurance has said it will consider goodwill payments for the delayed departure. The Post Office travel insurance will pay up to £5000 for what it calls “abandonment” if the airline or the policy holder’s supplier won’t pay up

The only advice seems to be persistent with your insurer/airline/ and be prepared to spend some time seeking redress. But some are more helpful than others.

Good luck to those who try.