STA Travel becomes latest failure of Coronavirus pandemic

By Beth Surridge

Student Travel Association (STA) has become the latest company to fail during the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving anxious customers uncertain if they will get their holidays or their money back.

The travel agency, which originally began trading as Student Travel Australia, had more than 50 shops in the UK, and was a specialist in organising student gap years, travel trips and similar projects for young people.

The news that it has ceased trading has come as a shock to many, as those with future trips planned now face uncertainty about if their trip is going ahead and if not, if they will receive any money back.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has said that the majority of holidays, flights and trips sold by STA would be protected under Atol, an insurance which protects holidays.

Beth Garrod, 21, who is a student from Hertfordshire, was due to go travelling with her two friends in December for three months, however now faces extreme uncertainty about the likelihood of that trip.

She said: “We began planning the trip back in January. We were due to fly out to Australia on the 1st December and spend a month going down the West Coast before flying over to New Zealand.

“I haven’t heard anything from STA about what my next steps are.

“Throughout lockdown, I have been trying to contact them regarding postponing the trip due to the fact I didn’t know if it would be able to go ahead in the way we had planned, but I have not got through to them.”

Similar to Beth, Dani Fort, 21, a student from Hertfordshire, was also planning to use STA next year after she had finished university, trips that the company used to pride themselves in.

She said: “It’s heart-breaking. After the stress of finishing university during a pandemic, I was really looking forward to planning my trip with STA next year after I had completed my Master’s.

“I wanted to use them because I know that they are especially good for student trips, I’ve always wanted to go to South-East Asia and they seemed like the only safe company I could use to get there.”

Both Beth and Dani have now had to cancel their travelling plans, and due to the Coronavirus restrictions, they now don’t know when they can travel again.

Joseph Procter, 24, a Ventilation Engineer from Stoke, has also been affected by the closure of STA, as he was planning a trip to Australia and around South-East Asia. However he has begun his next steps into claiming a refund.

DISAPPOINTMENT: Joseph Procter, 24, now has to look elsewhere to plan another trip.

He said: “My trip was never cancelled by STA, but I followed the instructions they put on their website and filled out an ABTA claims form.

“It’s a lot to get your head around and difficult to understand exactly what you need to do to claim back anything, but the ABTA website gives you all the information you need.”

STA stated on its website: “STA Travel UK has now ceased trading and the directors are taking advice on next steps for the business.

“We encourage you to reconfirm your travel arrangements directly with the travel providers of your booking. This includes airlines, tour operators, accommodation and transport providers.

“You may also refer to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) or Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) for more information, where you will find details of what to do and who to contact if you require further assistance.

“We would like to apologise for the circumstances, and would like to thank customers for their support through these difficult times. We wish you all the best for the future. STA Travel.”

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