Travel Agents

Travel Agency Complaints and Compensation for Holiday Problems

If you have booked a holiday through a travel agent and things have gone wrong, there are ways for you to get compensation. Whether it is because you think your travel agent misinformed you or experienced another problem, there are ways that you can complain. Read our helpful guide for steps on how to complain and have your travel agency complaints dealt with quickly.

Complain directly to your travel agent
If a problem ever arises, it is best to raise the issue with your travel agent first. Sometimes, a travel agent will act for the airline or tour operator, so in this case, you will need to follow their complaints procedure instead.
If you are not sure what their complaints procedure is, you can look at their terms and conditions which is provided by the travel agent.

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Be persistent with your travel agency complaints
Getting compensation for holiday problems can be hard at times, so it is best to be persistent if you have a serious claim. With serious complaints, keep using the travel agent’s complaints procedure, and if this is not successful, you can take them to a small claims court.
When taking a claim to the small claims court, you will be able to claim up to £10,000 in England and Wales. While in Northern Ireland and Scotland, you will be able to claim up to £3,000.

What is the best way to make travel agency complaints?
There are many routes that you can take if you have a complaint and want compensation for holiday problems. For example, you can complain through the ABTA complaints hub, make an ATOL claim, claim through your credit card as they may be jointly liable or take it to the small claims court. See below our guidance on these different methods.

Complaining with ABTA
If your holiday tour operator is a member of ABTA, the Travel Association, then you can use their complaints hub online to make a claim.
ABTA has a full list of all of their members on their website. You can also look at your booking documents for the ABTA logo to find out if that company is a member. If still unsure, ask the company directly if they are a member of ABTA.

When complaining through ABTA, you will need to provide them with many details. Be sure to include your initial booking confirmation and features along with the nature of your complaint. Provide your invoice and the contact you have had with your travel agent. Note that they will also be able to see the full complaint that you have made.

ABTA can also act as a mediator between consumers and their travel agent. Their arbitration service can be used to settle breaches of contract between the two parties. For example, if there is any personal illness or injury in your claim, then they can consider this. However this is restricted explicitly to £1,500.

ABTA’s arbitration judgement will be binding, and this will not allow you to take the case any further in court elsewhere.

The goal of ABTA is to resolve issues and bring customers and their travel agents together. They will aim to put you in control and make sure that your travel agent or tour provider responds to you. Once this has happened, it is then in your hand to decide if you would like to settle the complaint or withdraw it. ABTA does not work to give compensation to consumers.

Some complex cases may vary, but in general, the process will be similar to what is detailed below. The complaints process takes place online, and you can communicate with them through their website, email or text. If you do not have access to the internet, then you can post your complaint to them. Note that ABTA does not receive complaints through phone calls. They will only be able to give you advice on the phone.

Generally, the process will take up to 50 days, but it can be much quicker than this. Supplying the correct information documents will help the process.

Note that you should make a complaint through ABTA only once you have already tried the travel agent’s complaints procedure. Follow these simple steps:
1. Tell them what you are complaining about and how you would like it to be resolved. Be detailed yet clear and remember to send all of your evidence. They will not be able to start the complaints process unless they have all the required documents.
2. ABTA will provide you with a unique case number acknowledging your claim.
3. They will then review your case and provide you with individual advice. At times they will need to contact the company for you. They will then forward you any response that they get.

During the ABTA complaints process, you can track the progress of your claim through their website on your account or post.

Claim through ATOL
Another way to get compensation for holiday problems is to claim ATOL.

Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) was established by the government in 1973 when multiple travel company failures meant that many people were left stranded. It was set up to protect consumers in the case of any financial problems that the travel company may have. It is funded through contributions from the travel companies themselves.

The ATOL protection scheme is run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and protects consumer holidays that are booked through travel agents and tour companies. A flight also should be involved. In the UK, every travel agent must hold a license if they sell overseas flights and holidays. This is in case they are no longer able to trade because of financial problems. This means that if you are no longer able to go on your holiday because of your travel agent, then you will be able to receive a full refund.

Financial protection is provided by ATOL when consumers book packaged holidays. If the holiday is not a package but includes a flight, accommodation or a car hire then, Atol protection helps to assure consumers that if the travel agent fails, then the money will still be protected. Note that any flights you book directly with the airline will not be protected by ATOL.

As ATOL only offers financial protection, they will not be able to help if you have any other issues about your holiday.

All travel agents should have an ATOL certificate letting consumers know what protection comes with their holidays. This a requirement of UK law.

Search for the ATOL logo on the travel agents website or on any adverts that you have seen. If ever unsure, ask your travel company for specific details of protection that they offer. You should receive an ATOL certificate from the agent.

Getting an ATOL certificate is a legal requirement. Once you have paid your deposit, you should receive one from your travel agent alongside your holiday booking confirmation. This certificate acts as physical proof that your holiday will be protected by ATOL. It will tell you what steps to take if your travel agency is no longer operating and can be very helpful.

If you would like to make your claim through ATOL, then visit the CAA’s website and download a form to get started. These are the steps you will need to take.
1. On their site, you will be able to find the travel agency you booked with. There will be a link available for the claim form.
2. Fill in the claim form, print it and then send it to the specific address given to you.

Note that if you paid through a travel agency, then they will also need to fill in parts of the complaints form.

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