Are you looking at booking flights and hotels separately? There are things you need to know. What will your travel insurance cover? What steps do you need to take to be prepared and protect yourself? This is the Mind over Money Matters guide to Booking flights and hotels separately.

Which bookings are classed as separate bookings?

Any trip that is not a ‘package holiday’ booked through a package holiday provider is classed as a separate booking. So your Virgin Holiday or TUI holiday is covered under ATOL but if you are travelling using any other booking methods, they are classed as separate hotel and accommodation bookings. They include;

  • Flight and hotel deals that are not ATOL protected. You can check here.
  • Air Miles bookings
  • Flight only bookings on any Airline
  • Hotels, apartments inc Air bnb

What do I need to be prepared for?

The many reasons your trip could be cancelled include:

We will look at each reason in turn and what you are covered for on your insurance and the knock on effect of accommodation bookings but first make sure you get travel insurance.

You can skip to our COVID specials for package holiday bookings including Loveholidays bookings and Virgin Holidays bookings.

What prebooked costs do you risk losing?

When you plan your trip, it is likely you also book the add ons – booking in advance is generally cheaper, you can get great deals and offers. These costs can mount up and if your trip is cancelled for any reason – how will you get refunded? These costs include:

  • Cost of flight
  • Cost of Accommodation
  • Transfers
  • Trips / excursions
  • Airport hotels / parking
  • Car hire / transport

Why you should get travel insurance as soon as you book.

  • There is no reason not to – the cost is the same whether you book straight away or the day before you travel
  • You are covered for any (included) issues from the day you book
  • Choose a policy that covers you for Airline failure
  • If you go away more than once a year you should look at getting an annual policy

What will travel insurance cover if you can’t go on your holiday?

You may think that once you have travel insurance then that’s it. If your trip is cancelled then you will get all your money back. However when you book flights and accommodation this is not the case. If the Airline has cancelled your flights, the airline will refund you the flights only. You will generally be covered for:

  • Accommodation where the Airline has cancelled the flight.
  • Flights and accommodation where you have cancelled and meet the insurers strict criteria.
  • Flights and accommodation which is not covered elsewhere (eg by Credit card)
  • Refunds will have your excess deducted

What will your travel insurance NOT cover you for?

This list is much longer and we have been caught out before, make sure you have a read of your policy to see if your scenario would be covered. Your travel insurance will not cover you for any flights, accommodation or any other costs when you cancel unless you meet the strict criteria. Here are some examples of refusals to cover:

  • Redundancy or job loss if you have been in the position for under 12 months
  • Not being able to go due to money issues.
  • Any illness that is pre-existing that has not been declared. This is a nightmare one, when my back went, we had another trip planned which we had to cancel. My Doctor wrote a letter and the insurers took 4 months to decide that as I had been to the Doctor once 2 years before with a bad back, that counted as pre-existing.
  • Non major illnesses without a letter from your Doctor stating you cannot travel. My Doctor refused to write a letter when I was doubled over with my back the day (now covered under pre existing) before a flight, saying I should just take higher dose of painkillers like everyone else!
  • Family members health or needs, only reasons for ‘close’ family members with serious conditions will be considered. A beloved pet or best friend needing you is not covered.

Why you should book travel on a credit card wherever possible.

  • Booking by credit card gives you Section 75 protection which means if you can’t get a refund from the Airline, the Credit Card company will refund you. 
  • You can earn Air Miles
  • Some cards include travel insurance
flybe-collapse-what-you-need-to-know

What if my Airline goes bust?

Thomas Cook, FlyBe, WOW Air, Primera, BMI, Monarch and quite a few others have gone into administration in the last few years. Covid-19 will sadly see the collapse of more. How can you get your money back if your airline goes bust?

  • If you paid by credit card, contact your credit card company
  • If you paid by debit card, contact your issuer – you may be able to request a chargeback and get the refund that way
  • Request a refund through your travel Insurer – this is why Airline failure inclusion is so important.

How can you protect yourself against the airline going bust?

There are steps you can take to minimise the financial risk of your trip being cancelled for any reason.

  • Book cheap flights through Jacks Flight Club which are with established, non risky airlines.
  • Keep an eye on the news (or follow us on twitter or Facebook) for warnings that an Airline is in trouble – it’s never totally out of the blue

What if my flight is cancelled due to a strike?

This happened with British Airways, the rules are the same for any Airline strike. Have a read of the full strike guide here, but in a nutshell:

  • You will probably have been given at least 14 days notice of your cancelled flight.
  • The Airline must give you the option of rebooking an alternative flight, or cancelling with a full refund.
  • The Airline must pay for a reasonable alternative. With other airlines if necessary.
  • You can book the alternative flights yourself and you claim the cost back from from the Airline if you can’t get through to them.
  • You are entitled to claim £200 per night if you are stranded abroad.
  • If you have booked through a tour operator, contact them directly they will sort out the rebooking.
  • If you have booked with Air Miles, the same rules apply, you have the right to be rebooked.
  • You can accept the cancellation? You will get a full refund of the flights. Any accommodation etc will be covered by your travel insurance as long as it was in place before the strikes were known about.
  • If your flight was cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice, you can claim EU compensation.
  • Read our  flight cancelled or delayed guide.

What if I can’t go on my holiday?

There are plenty of reasons why you may need to delay or cancel your holiday, mostly sad and stressful ones like illness or employment reasons. Most people aren’t covered by their travel insurance unless it’s a big reason.

We have had to cancel trips for various reasons including my bad back, job related money issues and family health reasons. Most would not have been covered by our insurance so we make sure that all aspects of our trip are flexible with free or minimal cancellations charges.

Book flights with Air Miles 

Do look into ways to use Air Miles to book your flights, here’s my intro to Air Miles article. And a beginners guide to Air Miles for Jordon Cox. We went to Cyprus with BA for Easter for £35 return each. Stable Airline, baggage included. How’s that for a cheap flight?  Read about it here and you can now get return flights to Europe for just £1. We have just booked Business class for peak summer for £50 each. 

  • Remember flights booked with Avios and Virgin Miles are cancellable for a small charge up to 24 hours before departure.
  • You get the Air Miles back and can rebook when you are ready.

Make sure everything you book is refundable and comes with free cancellation

  • Hotels and accommodation – yes you may pay a slightly higher rate or have a more limited choice on hotels.com or Expedia
  • Airport parking and transfers, pay that £1.99 for cancellation cover.
  • Viator offers free cancellation on most excursions and activities
  • Most importantly if your Airline strikes / goes bust or you have to cancel for any reason then at least you’ll have the money back to rebook.  

Are you tempted by a cheap flight? Ask yourself these questions.

If you’re tempted by a cheap, say Norwegian Air trip to New York this summer and had booked non-refundable hotel / passes / transfers etc and they were next to go bust then what would happen? 

What if you had to cancel your trip for a reasons that wasn’t covered by your travel insurance?

Could you afford to rebook new flights? Airport parking, hotel, excursions with no refunds?

What do you need to do when you book flights and accommodation separately?

Always follow theses tips when booking flights and accommodation separately to make sure that if your trip is cancelled for any reason, you won’t be out of pocket then you can look forward to rebooking your trip.

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3 comments

  1. Hi Tracy – For refunds, if one needs to claim back, the credit card used I have found makes a huge difference. I had to cancel a hotel and claim back and Amex – the free version that you can get here: https://bit.ly/2RXx0e1 (and you get cash-back on every purchase also 🙂 )refunded me and then will sort it out later.
    With my Visa card it worked the opposite ie I have queried a payment and they are already taking one month plus to look into it.
    So the choice of credit card I have found makes a huge difference in how your travel and holiday refunds are processed.

    1. Thanks Paul, great to hear you have had success with refunds. We have Amex for collecting Air Miles and had used both S75 and the insurance, easy. Also had a 6 month battle with Nationwide visa credit card for a S75, won eventually after the Ombudsman got involved but wouldn’t recommend.

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