BRITISH Airways and Virgin are among those who have refused refunds for passengers hit by new Covid-19 Christmas restrictions - leading to fresh concerns about consumer rights.

Boris Johnson's new restrictions meant that almost 18 million people in London, south-eastern and eastern England as the region was put into a new two-week lockdown from Sunday.

And Nicola Sturgeon, in announcing "firm preventative action" was needed after the emergence of a faster-spreading strain of coronavirus announced a travel ban to and from the rest of the UK would apply over the festive period.

Scotland's toughest level four rules will also come into effect across mainland Scotland from Boxing Day.

People living under Tier 4 restrictions are being told not to travel unless essential.

Customers have been bombarding airlines with concerns that they are not legally permitted to fly but have encountered hurdles to getting refunds.

HeraldScotland:

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are among those who have revealed they will not be offering refunds to passengers who cancel trips for the end of the year following the new restrictions.

Virgin Atlantic tweeted: "Refunds are only permitted for cancelled flights. If you have booked with us directly, you have the option to rebook for a new travel date up until December 31, 2022.

If you have booked with a third party, please contact them directly for your options."

And BA were also advising customers in Tier 4 that they cannot get a refund until the flight is officially cancelled.

BA said: "Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their flights or request a voucher for future use as part of our Book with Confidence policy, which has been available since the beginning of the pandemic.

"As always, if a customer's flight is cancelled they are entitled to a full refund or a voucher, and we always contact any customers whose flights may be affected to discuss their options."

Virgin Atlantic added: "We understand the difficulties that Covid-19 and Tier 4 restrictions pose to some of our customers.

"Where a customer is unable to travel for any reason, we offer as much choice and flexibility as possible to help them change or amend their plans, with a name change and two date change fees waived for a new travel date up until December 31, 2022.

"Where a flight is cancelled, customers are of course entitled to a full cash refund."

EasyJet said that it would be offering refunds for those who were staying home.

HeraldScotland:

A spokesman said: "EasyJet plans to fly its current schedule over the coming days, however, following the UK Government's announcement implementing Tier 4 restrictions which includes advice against travelling abroad, we understand some customers may now need to change their flights.

"Impacted customers in Tier 4 areas have the option of transferring to an alternative flight free of charge, receiving a voucher or receiving a refund. This policy applies to any flights up until December 30."

Passengers were also calling out Ryanair and Aer Lingus for refusing refunds.

Aer Lingus will waive change fees up to two hours before departure, the IAG-owned airline said in a statement. Customers may be entitled to vouchers or refunds depending on fare type, it said.

Ryanair has been approached for comment.

Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, said: “These new restrictions will cause massive travel disruption and chaos, leaving many peoples’ festive plans in tatters. If you’ve forked out on money for a train ticket and have to stay put you should be able to cancel the trip and get your money back.

“Rail operators should be as accommodating as possible by allowing passengers the flexibility to use tickets or issuing them refunds if they can’t travel at another time.”