Compensation for Holiday Troubles – FAQs

Holiday claims lawyers are frequently contacted by holidaymakers who have complaints about their tour operators or airlines.

If the UK Government Changes Travel Advice

“My airline is still flying although The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has changed their travel advice to ‘all but essential travel’ to my holiday destination but I am concerned about traveling due to the situation in that country. If I cancel will I get a refund?”

You will need to carefully check your individual policy as your travel insurance may cover you in such circumstances but all policies are different. It is worth checking the airline’s Conditions of Carriage, in case they offer provision in situations of this nature.

You could find it complicated to argue for a refund or a breach of contract if you choose not to fly, if you booked a flight independent of your accommodation, and your airline is ready and able to take you to your destination.

You may be able to argue that the change of circumstances amounts to a ‘significant alteration’ if you were booked on a package holiday. The tour operator should offer you a substitute holiday if accepted; offering a full refund or refunding any difference in price. In accordance with Regulation 13 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.

Your tour operator could be liable for the consequences as the risk of damage or injury may not be unforeseeable or unavoidable, if they insist that you travel or face the contractual penalties of cancelling. They would also be liable for providing prompt assistance if you get into trouble.

If your tour operator is unhelpful you may be able to get help from your travel insurer, but you should check the policy terms before making any decision to cancel.

“Will I get a refund if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office has changed their travel advice, advising against ‘all travel’ to my holiday destination?”

In accordance with Regulation 13 of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 holidaymakers booked on a package holiday will be entitled to a full refund, or a substitute holiday and a refund of any price difference. Under the ABTA Code of Conduct Tour operators who are members of ABTA, are obliged to do the same.

All flights leaving from a UK airport will be covered by Regulation (EC) 261/2004, which requires the passenger to be given a full refund of the flight ticket when a flight is cancelled, even if this is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as civil unrest within the destination country.

Special requested requirements

“I booked a holiday and specially requested a room on the ground floor for my elderly father. But when we arrived his room was on the second floor. How do I complain?”

You need to make it a condition of your holiday contract when you book if you have a specific requirement that is essential to your booking, such as a ground-floor room for an elderly relative.

Make sure the request is written on your booking form, not in the ‘special requests’ section and made part of your contract. If this condition is not fulfilled then the contract has been breached, and you can pursue a claim against the holiday company.

Facilities that are not provided

“Can I get compensation if I booked a family holiday with a travel agent and the hotel was described as having two swimming pools and a children’s play area. But when arrived at the hotel one of the pools and the play area were closed for refurbishment?”

You have a responsibility to minimise the loss – this means, while you are on holiday, that you should raise the problem as soon as possible to give the company an opportunity to move you to more appropriate accommodation or put things right.

As soon as you return home write to the tour operator; if you did this but your complaint was not resolved to your liking, explain the problem and ask for recompense. If you are disappointed with the offer then you can take your case to the small claims court.

You can claim compensation from the tour company for your loss of enjoyment or inconvenience if descriptions are not met. Then the holiday company that produced the brochure is in breach of the Package Travel Regulations. When you book a holiday you have a right to expect it to meet any description given in the brochure.

Responsibility for food on holiday

“Who is responsible the hotel or the holiday company if I suffered food poisoning from food I ate in our holiday resort/hotel?”

You should seek legal advice – sometimes if a number of people become ill at a hotel/resort solicitors will bring a joint claim called a ‘class action’ to get compensation.

If you become ill by eating contaminated food at a hotel rather than having to pursue a claim against the hotel you can sue the holiday company in this country. If you were on a package holiday the Package Travel Regulations cause the holiday company to be liable for any negligence of the hotel/resort.

Prices rising

“The holiday company contacted me a week before my holiday and said that prices had increased and I had to pay an extra £100 each before travelling although I had already paid £1,000 for my partner and myself to go on a package holiday to Spain. Are they allowed to do this?”

The tour operator can only increase the price of your holiday Once it has been confirmed, if the booking conditions state that this is allowable and the increase is because:

  • Taxes and fees for services have increased
  • the exchange rate has changed
  • transport costs have increased


Travel agent goes out of business

“Does it mean I have lost my holiday if the travel agent I used to book a package holiday to Jamaica has recently gone into receivership?”

The travel agent was simply acting as the representative your contract was with the holiday company. Your holiday plans should not be affected assuming the holiday company is still in business. You should contact the tour operator to make sure they have your details and everything is alright.

Collapsed airline

“How can I get my money back if the airline I booked my flight with has collapsed?”

How you paid will affect your chances of getting your money back:

  • You can claim the money back if you paid for your flight with a credit card, from your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. All purchases from £100 – £30,000 are covered.
  • You can claim the money back from the tour operator you booked through if your flight was part of a package holiday. It is the tour operator’s responsibility to make alternative arrangements for you if you have been left stranded by the cancellation of your flight.
  • Check your policy if you have travel insurance, as some cover the loss of scheduled flights.


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