Virgin Holidays

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Nadiye's complaint against Virgin Holidays

Nadiye Morgan

27/01/2016

We have had to cancel our babymoon 37 days before travelling due to the Zika outbreak

Complaint against Virgin Holidays

My husband and I are expecting our first baby in June. We discovered we were expecting as the back of our house came off for major rennovations so we’ve been living in a building site for 4 months hence the decision to splurge on a rather special final holiday before baby arrives. We chose Barbados as my family are frequent visitors and my sister now lives over there. Rather than going self catering or staying with my sister, we opted to go for a lovely hotel all inclusive with spa so that we could be assured of the health and hygiene standards, including mosquito netting on windows and air conditioning. We also thought it would be wise to stay somewhere with easy access to medical facilities should we need them! We booked the holiday on Jan 3rd, paying in full by debit card. The total cost was several thousand Mid January, we became aware of the news reports about the Zika virus, including 3 confirmed cases in Barbados. My father is a geneticist with many medical contacts which we drew upon (including a professor of tropical diseases) so that we would be informed and not make a rash decision. Over the weekend and into Monday, the World Health Organisation issued a warning, followed by Public Health England. The advice was very clear – don’t travel to those countries unless you have to. It appears there is a real risk of microcephaly if you contract the virus and it passes via the placenta into a foetus. This was further evidenced by virus infection found in the brain of a dead baby this week. No holiday is worth risking harm to an unborn child. On Monday I called Virgin for advice. I spoke to KR who said there was no need to rush a decision – go to see my GP and see what they said. He said they might be able to find an alternative in any event and we discussed postponing the trip until later in the year (the risk is only to pregnant women, otherwise the virus if contracted is rather mild). That evening I decided to check the Virgin cancellation policy and saw that if I did wait another 48 hours, I could forfeit up to 70% of the cost of the holiday. If I cancelled immediately it was capped at 50%. I called Virgin yesterday to discuss this further and I asked, as medical information becomes clearer, could their cancellation terms change? She said it was unlikely and I wouldn’t benefit anyway if I cancelled then. We were on the phone to her (N) for 40 mins. She asked if an alternative could work (without going into it) but as I explained Selen was out there, she agreed to cancel. I offered to postpone the trip until after the baby is born but this wasn’t an option. She advised the maximum she could refund was 41% because our flights had ‘already been ticketed’. I complained but she said there was nothing she could do (invoice 2 attached). After going on twitter, they honoured their standard cancellation policy and agreed to refund me 50% (invoice 3 attached). We are now thousands out of pocket. Whilst I appreciate we have a contract given this isn’t a simple changing of minds but a difficult decision that has been taken on the basis of a growing body of medical evidence and public health warnings, I do feel let down by a company I have always trusted as reputable and customer-centric.

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