TUI offers free holiday changes – but don’t rush to book

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TUI’s offer to switch holidays free of charge might not be the safety net it seems

TUI will allow new customers to make one free change to their holiday booking – including the destination, date, duration and hotel – for any reason. But there’s a catch. In fact, there are several.

Catch #1

The new policy only applies to bookings made between 23 July and 30 September for travel between 20 August this year and 30 April 2021. Clearly TUI is trying to encourage people to book when many are still a little bit nervous about travelling. As a further inducement, TUI is offering up to £300 off selected hotels for travel in August.

Catch #2

Your holiday must be on TUI Airways flights and the free changes are only allowed for TUI, First Choice or Marella Cruise holidays. Change the name on your booking and you’ll still have to pay a £25 per person charge.

Catch #3

The change must be made at least 28 days before departure.

Catch #4

You will have to pay any difference in price, which is not unreasonable but there is always the danger that if you want to postpone your holiday, the cost could go up.

I did some research for the consumers’ association Which? and found that TUI was, in some cases, charging customers up to double to move their holidays from this summer to next.

Some did manage to move to a cheaper holiday, but many more told me they’d had to pay a higher price. If you do switch to a cheaper package, TUI will refund you the difference.

Flexibility is great but…

It is good that TUI has a more flexible booking policy, but it would be a mistake to think of this as a safety net in case you change your mind later and don’t want to go. There are quite a lot of restrictions. And, like an NHS appointment you can only make one change. Also, note, you can’t cancel and get your money back.

TUI says that the new policy ‘will give customers the peace of mind they need to book a holiday knowing that they can change it if, for whatever reason, they decide they want to go somewhere different or delay their trip’. I say only book if you’re certain it’s the holiday you want and you feel confident about travelling.

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