Many of us look forward to holiday’s year on year. However, as exciting and relaxing as they can sometimes be things don’t always go to plan. Over the years we have heard of many horror stories surrounding holidays going wrong. It is essential to be aware of your rights when it comes to holidays and travel. In some cases, there may be issues before you even get the chance to travel causing many to want to cancel. But what are your rights?

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Consumer Rights Holiday Cancellation
There can be many reasons as to why you might want to cancel your holiday. A common one we have seen through claims and complaints is a change in the original sale. For example, holiday providers changing their terms and conditions of package holidays before you travel. Changes to holiday plans can have a major impact and stop people from being able to travel. In some cases, they might have made changes to your accommodation, flights or even the travel dates. This is a clear breach of contract and what you paid for. In this instance, you may be able to claim compensation and get a full refund.

In other cases, there may be cancellation fees in place. It is important to be aware of these to ensure you don’t lose too much money. The cancellation fee generally depends on a time period and how much notice you have given before cancelling. A typical example of cancellation fees may look like:

  • Three months before losing your deposit money
  • Two months before losing 50% of your total holiday price
  • One month before losing 70% of your total holiday price
  • Ten days or less lose your full holiday price

Cancellation fees will vary depending on the holiday provider you book with. Ensure you look into the prices, hidden costs and read the terms and conditions before booking.

Holiday providers are not the only involved parties that could make changes. People in the past have seen airlines and accommodation make Substantial changes to effecting a holiday. If they make the changes, then you should be within your right to get a full refund without having to pay the cost of any cancellation fees. However, if the changes are not deemed highly significant, then the airline may offer alternatives such as:

  • a partial refund
  • flight transfer
  • allow you to reclaim airport tax

It is important to note though that many budget airlines do not provide alternatives or any form of compensation.

If you are concerned about losing out on a significant amount of money for the price you paid for your holiday, then there are other options. You could consider transferring your holiday to someone else. This is an excellent way to get some of the money back from your holiday. Many people “sell” their holidays on if they need to cancel to friends or family at a price lower than they paid. Although it is unlikely you will get the full cost of the holiday you paid for you will lose significantly less than if you were to cancel entirely. You will need to change the current details on the holiday booking to those of who you have transferred it to. This will need to be done by contacting the holiday provider within enough notice. You should also expect to pay a transfer fee.

It is also worth considering if your travel insurance provider has cancellation cover. This will mean you may be able to get compensation back if you choose to cancel. However, there is stricter rule with this. You cannot simply claim compensation if the reason for cancelling your holiday is by choice or because you no longer want to go. There needs to be a significant reason for the cancellation.

Common reasons have included:

  • Serious illness or death (yourself, travel companion or relative)
  • Redundancy
  • Court order or jury duty

Those are just a few of the examples that force people to have to cancel their holiday. Travel insurance policies are great if you have the cover in place and qualify to claim it. Most providers will offer compensation pay-outs between £1000 and £5000 depending on the claim.

Holiday Claims
Other claims and complaints surrounding holidays arise from people not being happy with what they have paid for. In recent years we have seen many complaints against holiday companies with many claiming they were mis-sold a holiday. Such as Thomson Holidays (now known as Tui), Thomas Cook and Jet2 to name a few. If you have booked a holiday and are disappointed and feel though you have been mis-sold to, then you are within your rights to make a claim.

If you have booked a package holiday and you believe it is not what you paid for then you have a right to claim. Under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, you can claim if the holiday is not as described. The travel provider should work with you to provide an adequate alternative if you are still on holiday. If you choose to complain after you should contact the travel provider in writing. There are plenty of template letters online which can help guide you on how to write to them.

Illness and accident on Holiday Claims
Another reason why you might want to make a complaint may be to do with illness or injuries. Holiday illness is one of the major reasons why people complain against holiday providers. For your claim to be successful, it would need to be proven that your holiday provider was at fault. For example, if you get food poisoning whilst on an all-inclusive holiday from the hotel restaurant, then your holiday provider will be liable. The amount you will be able to claim will vary depending on the severity of the sickness. The average settlement for food poisoning claims will usually be between £700 and £3000.

Holiday sickness is not just contained to food poisoning claims though. You may have been involved in an accident. Holiday accidents are also common, and you may be able to claim back compensation if it again is proven to be the fault of the provider.

Examples of accident claims are:

  • Car accidents on transport provided through your package holiday
  • Falling or slipping by the pool causing personal injury
  • Accidents in transit (e.g. shuttle transfers)

If they are non-fault accidents, you should be able to claim compensation for the injuries caused and cover any out of pocket expenses.
Holiday compensation for delays

A delayed or cancelled flight is the last thing any traveller wants. If you have experienced this, you might be able to claim compensation for the ordeal you faced. Under EU law you might be able to claim compensation if your flight departed from the UK, EU, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland. Or if
you flew with an EU airline that landed within the UK, EU, Norway or Switzerland (the departure destination doesn’t matter).

For delayed flights, it is essential to be aware of what you are entitled to as a customer. For lengthy delays, the airline should provide you with adequate provisions such as:

  • Food and drink
  • Access to phone calls and emails (efficient WIFI aces)
  • If an overnight delay, they should provide you with accommodation and transport to such accommodation if needed.

A delayed flight depends on the distance of the plane from the airport you are due to fly from. For example, if your aircraft is less than 1500 km away from the airport, then you should expect a delay of two hours. The further the distance the longer the flight delay.

If your flight arrives more than 3 hours late, you may be entitled to flight delay compensation if it was the fault of the airline. For example, if the airline in question is to blame, then you are within your right to claim compensation for delays caused. However, there are some factors out of their control which will prevent you from claiming. For example, bad weather and in extraordinary circumstances security risks may cause delays. They have little control over this so they cannot be held accountable.

However, when a flight gets to a delay of 5 hours or more, it gets more complicated. With long delays like this, you will need to choose whether to take that one or travel on a replacement flight. Choosing not to accept the delayed fault means that it no longer matters who is to blame for the delay. If you decide not to travel then the airline is obliged to do the following:

  • They must give you a full refund for the flight
  • Provide a full refund for other flights from the same airline in the same booking that won’t be used (e.g. return or connecting flights).
  • A flight back to your original departure airport if you have already started travelling

However, if you choose to accept the flight it does again depend on if it is the airline’s fault. If they are to blame because of things like technical faults, then you may be able to claim up to £600 in compensation.

To claim against the airline, you will first need to contact the flight company you are flying with. So even if you booked with a different travel company the airline is who you need to contact. You should contact their customer service department and provide details of your booking reference and flight number.

Write a detailed claim with what you want the outcome to be. Keep a record of any correspondence with the airline as this may be needed for letter reference.

If you feel that your claim is not getting anywhere, you may be able to escalate it to the Civil Aviation Authority.

When making a claim ensure you provide as much detail as possible and be persistent.

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