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
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate