After the tsunami

Advice for readers whose travel plans are affected by the disaster in Asia

Following the Boxing Day disaster, many readers have contacted the travel desk to ask how it will affect their plans. This is a synthesis of the most frequently asked questions.

Following the Boxing Day disaster, many readers have contacted the travel desk to ask how it will affect their plans. This is a synthesis of the most frequently asked questions.

I have a holiday booked in Asia later this month. What are my options?

First, find out if the area you're planning to visit has been hit. In Thailand, Malaysia and India, the majority of beach resorts have not been significantly affected. In particular, the Gulf of Thailand is untouched, as are the Indian states of Kerala and Goa. And even though the Indonesian island of Sumatra has been devastated, most tourist destinations in that country - in particular Bali and Lombok - are unaffected.

My destination has been hit; can I change to somewhere else?

That depends. People booked on package holidays are in a stronger position. If your tour operator is unable to provide the holiday that you booked, you must be offered the choice of a refund or an alternative holiday. Kuoni, the biggest tour operator to the region, says those due to depart imminently to the worst affected regions can claim full refunds, defer travel to a later date or switch destination. Later in January, there should be plenty of availability elsewhere, though the Caribbean is busy.

Be aware that some resorts may be functioning more quickly than you expect. For example, Audley Travel is being non-committal about its plans for customers booked on holidays later in the year: "We are asking them to wait until the situation has calmed down and we can see precisely the damage done to their chosen destination. Once we have this information we will amend their itineraries on a case-by-case basis."

Independent travellers are less well protected. If you have booked a restricted ticket on a flight that is still operating, for example from London to Bangkok, neither your travel agent or the airline is obliged to offer you an alternative. In practice, most carriers are being flexible. For example, Qantas is allowing those people booked to travel on that route before 1 February to claim a refund (though agents may levy a fee), or to defer travel. All these offers have time limitations.

Even though my destination - Kerala in India - is unaffected, I can't face the prospect of going.

"Disinclination to travel" isn't grounds for a refund or other changes. Package holiday companies, many of which have already spent a considerable amount of money dealing with the impact of the tsunami, are not obliged to offer alternatives.

Bales Tours, for example, says that holidays to resorts in Asia that are unaffected by the disaster will depart as planned. A spokeswoman says: "Cancellation charges will apply to those who decide that they no longer wish to travel."

Other companies are being more flexible. A number of tour operators will allow customers to switch destinations, while Thomson is allowing those customers booked to travel in the next two weeks to unaffected areas in the Maldives to cancel with a full refund.

Many airlines are allowing passengers who booked before 26 December to change destinations, defer travel or even claim full refunds. Thai Airlines is allowing anyone with a ticket from London via Bangkok to either Krabi or Phuket to change the last segment to a wide range of destinations on the Thai mainland, or choose from Bali, Vietnam, Hong Kong or Singapore

If I decide to travel to one of the affected regions, is my insurance still valid?

The attitude of many of Britain's travel insurers is that policies issued before the earthquake will retain the same degree of cover as originally purchased, but that policies issued since 26 December may exclude coverage for travel to the affected areas.

I'm safe but apparently my travel insurance isn't valid for events like an earthquake.

Some policies exclude cover for the effects of "acts of God", as they do with terrorist attacks. But judging from the reaction to the hurricanes in the Caribbean and Florida last autumn, travel insurers may well be more generous than they need to be. For example, Sainsbury's Bank says that, "where possible", it will look to cover customers affected by the tsunami disaster even if the policy wording excludes acts of God. It is also extending the validity of single-trip policies to cover customers whose holidays to the region are postponed because of the tsunami.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk