TUI: Flights and holidays put on pause until July but will stores reopen sooner?

Travel firm TUI announced on Thursday that it would be further cancelling planned holidays until July. However, as with the UK government now allowing some retail stores to open from June 15, many Britons may be wondering if they can pop in store and book their next holiday sooner.

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The company, which has previously cancelled all trips until June 12, has been forced to further cancel holidays due to the UK’s ongoing travel restrictions.

TUI has also cancelled its Marella Cruises until August and pushed back the start date for its inaugural river cruises to November.

TUI said in a statement that it has extended the suspension of holidays “due to the ongoing travel restrictions”.

A statement on the website states: “Due to the ongoing situation regarding COVID-19, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel.

“If your holiday falls into one of the below categories, we’re really sorry to say that it has been cancelled.

“TUI holidays travelling on or before 30 June 2020, TUI River Cruises sailings travelling up until and including 25 November 2020 [and] Marella Cruises sailings on or before 30 July 2020.”

A TUI spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We’re still reviewing the number of stores that would safely allow for a safe return to work for our advisors as the health and safety of our colleagues has to be our highest priority.

“We have no plans to open stores on 15 June for customers.

“The primary role of our retail advisors is to help and support our customers and this has worked well with our home working team.”

The company has no date set in stone for reopening.

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However, they do have a 10-point plan in place for how they intend to operate holidays when they do eventually reopen.

Their plan forms part of a “more comprehensive package” which covers all sides of TUI’s business.

The package will apply to flights, transfers, hotel stays and retail, meaning their stores.

It includes adjusting capacities, ensuring social distancing and hygiene measures are in place, and now training programmes for employees.

Under the government’s new three-stage plan for relaxing UK lockdown, high-street shops, department stores and shopping centres will be allowed to reopen on June 15.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms are allowed to reopen slightly sooner, on June 1, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested “social distancing is generally easier” in these outlets due to their naturally spacious layout.

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TUI also recently amended its cancellation and refund policy to help would-be holidaymakers who have now had their plans cancelled.

According to the company website, customers who have cancelled holidays can now “access a self-service section on the website to apply for a cash refund, removing the need for them to call customer services.”

They add: “Customers with holidays booked up to 31st August are now able to make free amendments to their bookings online until 30th June.”

TUI UK & Ireland Managing Director Andrew Flintham said: “We want to offer customers greater flexibility with their holiday bookings and simplify the process of requesting a refund. This is why we’ve developed a new system to help customers with cash refund requests and have updated our amendment policies.

“We recognise the situation around travel this summer remains unclear and there’s still a lot of uncertainty around when we will all be able to travel again, and some customers may not wish to pay a final balance with so many unknowns.

“We are therefore allowing TUI customers with holidays before the end of August the opportunity to amend their holiday for free so they don’t have to pay until closer to their new departure date.

“Customers with a cancelled holiday will now be able to amend their holiday online and take advantage of the 20 percent booking incentive, or they can keep their refund credit and booking incentive for a later date when they know when and where they would like to travel.

“And for those customers that would prefer a cash refund, they can now apply via an online form instead of calling our contact centre.”

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