The Sun’s Corona Crew rescued our £27k for cancelled dream holiday to Florida after we struggled to get a refund

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WHEN their dream holiday to Florida was scuppered by Covid-19, the Batchelors were down £27,000 – and struggling to get a refund.

But just 24 hours after HOAR stepped in today, the family were celebrating after ALL their money was repaid.

Morna and James Batchelor were owed £26,600 after their dream trip to Florida was cancelled

James booked the two-week holiday to Disney World Orlando and Universal Studios to celebrate wife Morna’s 65th birthday

We launched the Corona Crew on Wednesday — a panel of experts that can help with consumer issues caused by the pandemic.

And we were flooded with hundreds of messages from readers desperate to get their money back for cancelled flights and holidays.

James Batchelor, 67, told us how he and his family were owed £26,600 after their trip to Florida was cancelled.

Delighted James said: “We turned to HOAR in absolute desperation.

“We’d been trying to get our money back for nearly two months and the Corona Crew did it in a day. Thank you.

‘WORRIED SICK’

“We’ve been worried sick. My wife and I are pensioners and it took us years to save up that money.”

James booked the two-week holiday to Disney World Orlando and Universal Studios to celebrate wife Morna’s 65th birthday.

Daughter Nichola was also going on the trip to mark her 40th, along with her son Kieren, 22.

James, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, booked the package — including a top hotel, 14-day passes to both theme parks, upper-class seats on Virgin Atlantic and private transfers — at a local branch of Barrhead Travel.

The bill came to £27,000 but the family had a £400 credit voucher following a mix-up on a previous holiday.

The Batchelors were due to fly on April 25, a month after lockdown began, but were only told the day before their departure that the holiday had been cancelled.

James said: “Despite being loyal customers for 15 years, our dream holiday was cancelled by email. The message said someone would be in touch within 28 days.

“We never heard any more from anyone at Barrhead Travel, despite emailing and calling.

“We were becoming very worried and when we saw the Corona Crew in HOAR we sent an email on Wednesday evening.

“I couldn’t believe it when, less than 24 hours later, Barrhead Travel called us to say they were giving us all our money back.

“The people of the Corona Crew are amazing.”

Sun Travel Editor Lisa Minot — one of our 12 Corona Crew experts — contacted Scottish firm Barrhead on behalf of the family and it paid up straight away.

The Batchelors were only told the day before their departure that the holiday had been cancelled

The Batchelors received a full refund just 24 hours after HOAR stepped in

Lisa said: “As a reputable company, as soon as they became aware that the family were still waiting for their money, Barrhead did the decent thing and paid up straight away.”

A company spokesman told the Corona Crew today: “We’re really grateful to Mr Batchelor and his family for their patience while they were waiting to hear from our team.

“We know how disappointing it was to have their special-occasion holiday cancelled and we’re really sorry that they were waiting longer than expected to hear from us.

“We have tens of thousands of customers affected by the disruption that Covid-19 has caused throughout the world, which is why it is taking us longer than it usually would to personally reach all of our customers.”

The Corona Crew also got a full refund for reader Christine Tutt, 70, who was sat in a plane on the tarmac about to take off for Turkey when it was announced over the Tannoy that the trip was cancelled.

For three months she had been trying to get travel firm Opodo to return the £600 she had paid for the one-week break in Antalya.

She told the Corona Crew: “It was impossible to get through to them. It’s been a nightmare.

“I know I’m not the only one in this situation but it’s appalling I haven’t been able to get through to them.”

But within a day of Christine emailing the Crew for help, Sun Online Consumer champion Tara Evans had secured a full refund.

Christine, of Epsom, Surrey, said: “I can’t thank you enough for getting the money back.”

An Opodo spokesman said it had refunded 80 per of holidaymakers and added: “We are so pleased to have been able to help in resolving this issue speedily.”

Pensioner Peter Cattanach, 81, has received £510 back from easyJet thanks to the Corona Crew.

He and wife Carol, 71, had been due to travel to Faro, Portugal, today for a two-week break, which was cancelled due to Covid.

The Corona Crew also got a full refund for reader Christine Tutt after her trip to Turkey was cancelled

EasyJet offered to refund the cost of their outbound flight but refused to pay for the homeward leg “because the return flight would be running on July 4”.

Peter, of Chorley, Lancs, said: “I assumed the whole thing was cancelled.

“Suddenly this bombshell came that they had put me on a flight back on the day after my holiday was due to finish. We were so stressed.”

When Tara stepped in, easyJet apologised for the error and refunded them for both flights.

Peter said: “It’s amazing what the power of HOAR can do.

“It just shows you that the little man, with the right help, can come out on top.”

Tonight, easyJet said: “We apologise for any confusion this may have caused.”