On The Beach boss urges customers to demand cash for £85m credit notes

On The Beach boss urges customers to demand cash for £85m credit notes

OTA’s Simon Cooper says it is not right that IOUs were used to solve cashflow problems

The boss of OTA On The Beach has urged holidaymakers with unused Refund Credit Notes to demand cash refunds from their travel providers before they lose Atol protection.

This week UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, revealed there is £85 million in unspent credit notes issued during the COVID-19 pandemic sitting with travel firms.

If customers with RCNs do not redeem them by September 30 this year they lose Atol protection, the CAA warned. 

Simon Cooper, chief executive of On the Beach, said customers’ “hard-earned money” should not be used to “line the pockets” of travel firms that made use of IOUs to shore up cashflows during the pandemic.

“It is extremely concerning to learn that £85 million of customer monies is still tied up in Refund Credit Notes, with millions of people at risk of losing their Atol protection on September 30,” he said. 

“The CAA must mandate that travel companies who issued RCNs write to their customers and remind them of their right to a cash refund, and of their RCN expiry date and that ATOL protection expires on September 30. 

"We are in the midst of a cost of living crisis when choosing how and where to spend your money is more important to people than ever; it simply isn’t right that people’s hard-earned cash is lining the pockets of the travel companies who, during the pandemic, used these ‘IOUs’ as a short-term solution to their own cash flow problems - instead of refunding people in cash for their cancelled holidays. 

“We highlighted a number of our concerns about Refund Credit Notes in a white paper published in June last year. I will repeat what I said then and urge anyone with an unused RCN to call their travel provider today and ask for a full cash refund.”

In July 2020, the Atol scheme announced that consumers who accepted refund credit notes for cancelled Atol-protected holidays would continue to be financially protected by the Atol scheme.

This protection applied to refund credit notes issued between March 10, 2020, and December 19, 2021.

If a travel company goes bust after September 30, 2022, travellers with refund credit notes will not be covered by the Atol scheme and could lose out on money that they have already paid.

Michael Budge, head of Atol at the CAA, said: “Millions of holidaymakers have missed out on travel over the past two years, with many being offered refund credit notes during the pandemic.

“As demand for travel continues to grow again, we want to make sure consumers are making the most of the financial protection available to them.

“If you have a refund credit note, make an Atol-protected booking or request a refund well before September 30, 2022, to avoid putting your money at risk.”