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I've seen numerous posts and threads from members here about booking early. Some are even getting twitchy about the 2021 timetable while we are still in a pandemic. Is there any point to booking early?

I rarely book more than a week in advance and have rarely not had a sailing and a cabin. I seem to have saved myself a load of hassle over refunds, changes, vouchers and all that stuff.

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3 hours ago, BobCrox said:

I've seen numerous posts and threads from members here about booking early. Some are even getting twitchy about the 2021 timetable while we are still in a pandemic. Is there any point to booking early?

I rarely book more than a week in advance and have rarely not had a sailing and a cabin. I seem to have saved myself a load of hassle over refunds, changes, vouchers and all that stuff.

Hi Bob,  I thought I was the only one !   

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6 minutes ago, wortley said:

Hi Bob,  I thought I was the only one !   

Under the old regime I always booked early to get something I wanted, particularly if it included a cabin at key periods of the year, in the knowledge I could amend it if necessary. Now, unless I'm 100% sure of the date, I'll probably delay my booking or book with DFDS in the knowledge that I can't change the booking but can walk away if things really change significantly without a major financial hit. Ed.

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1 minute ago, Cabin-boy said:

Under the old regime I always booked early to get something I wanted, particularly if it included a cabin at key periods of the year, in the knowledge I could amend it if necessary. Now, unless I'm 100% sure of the date, I'll probably delay my booking or book with DFDS in the knowledge that I can't change the booking but can walk away if things really change significantly without a major financial hit. Ed.

If you book flexible ticket option with BF, then you can amend with a full refund until very late in the day, can't you?

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3 minutes ago, hf_uk said:

If you book flexible ticket option with BF, then you can amend with a full refund until very late in the day, can't you?

Very probably but I haven't actually booked anything since it all changed but I might do so tomorrow,  or whenever the sailings open, but only if foot passengers are back on the menu. Ed. 

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8 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Very probably but I haven't actually booked anything since it all changed but I might do so tomorrow,  or whenever the sailings open, but only if foot passengers are back on the menu. Ed. 

Flexible tickets seem really good value considering you can change it so near to departure. Not sure about foot passengers though - arn't they a taboo subject everywhere at the moment! 😮

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17 minutes ago, hf_uk said:

If you book flexible ticket option with BF, then you can amend with a full refund until very late in the day, can't you?

No, you get 75% back for a cancellation, however it is fully amendable up to 4 hours before sailing

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3 minutes ago, hf_uk said:

Not sure about foot passengers though - arn't they a taboo subject everywhere at the moment! 😮

Only on BF apparently and only due to the lack of revenue they generate in my opinion. Trains seem to be operating at 100% availability,  as do planes, so it's just the cruise and ferry industry that's bucking the trend. Ed. 

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Just now, Cabin-boy said:

Only on BF apparently and only due to the lack of revenue they generate in my opinion. Trains seem to be operating at 100% availability,  as do planes, so it's just the cruise and ferry industry that's bucking the trend. Ed. 

Can't get many cars on planes and trains though 😮

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Widening the argument a bit, we have always tended to book our holidays early to get what we wanted. But it has cost us over £700 this year in lost deposits as we have not been willing to stump up the balance when due in the knowledge that the holiday will either not go ahead in which case getting a cash refund could be problematical or it has been clear that the holiday experience would be nowhere near what we were expecting when we booked. All this amounts to 'disinclination to travel' so no compensation is due and no valid insurance clain either. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses

So we will wait until next year and look at the situation then. Being retired we can travel at short notice and not risk losing an early booking deposit. It might even be possible to get a last minute bargain to compensate for our loss of deposits this year - we live in hope!

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Horses for courses really - everyone has different circumstances and it depends what suits you best. In theory 'these days' I would be more inclined to book something flexible in the event plans change, but equally having seen how some firms have behaved with refunds in the last few months I'm less inclined to hand over money in advance.

This week we're finally due the last of the refunds for trips that were cancelled due to Covid. It's been a varied and long process.

  • British Airways - were very slow to refund after saying they would. In the end a dispute filed via American Express sorted that.
  • Brittany Ferries - after being advised that using the contact form to decline the voucher and request a refund was the 'right' process, a refund was issued
  • Air Malta Holidays - having been one of the first to say a refund would be given, they've taken the longest
  • American Express Travel - full and immediate refund having directed them to the hotel chain's website that said non-flex bookings would be refunded
  • Eurostar - we took a gamble and didn't accept a voucher. The train was cancelled as expected and a full refund was given within 10 days.
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I think that the lesson from this year is to make it all refundable or amendable, my experience this year has been:-

  • British Airways - said it would take 30 days to refund, actually took 10
  • Hotels.co.uk refundable hotels - said 30 days, took about 10
  • Small Travel company in South Korea which I expected grief from my refund - less than a week
  • 5 nights of non refundable hotels.co.uk rooms for July - Whilst I was on the phone to them, the agent rang each hotel in turn and 3 hotels agreed to a refund, only a French one for two nights did not - I have now put in a claim with my travel insurance as I cancelled our trip whilst the FCO advice was in place and it was less than 28 days to go.
  • Brittany Ferries, took vouchers for Easter trip, applied them to final payment for Spanish trip, when that morphed into an Autumn France trip, I got all of my money back and a small voucher as the vouchers applied was less than the cost of the French trip

However re BF, in peak time you save loads of money booking well in advance & as long as you buy flexi tickets (seem to be larger premium for 2021) you don't pay that much up front and can amend them,

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15 hours ago, nodwad said:

I think bob is on about me,the answer we always travel with our dog and if you want the dates you want ,you have to be quick off the mark.

You have to be so quick off the mark its not true, I like a dog cabin and because BF never tell you when the next years sailings are available it means phoning on a daily basis to ask.

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On 14/07/2020 at 19:49, hf_uk said:

Can't get many cars on planes and trains though 😮

There used to be a plane service from Lydd to Le Touquet.

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On 14/07/2020 at 19:47, David Williams said:

No, you get 75% back for a cancellation, however it is fully amendable up to 4 hours before sailing

Thank you David, your reply is very helpful.  A 25% loss if I decide to cancel.

That in a nutshell is why I will wait and buy a ticket when I know I will be going somewhere - and if that is within a few days of departure it can be one of the cheaper range of non Flexi tickets. 

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