No one likes to imagine their dream holiday going wrong — but it’s always better to be prepared, just in case…
Here’s how to handle the most common holiday disasters.
AIRLINE OR HOTEL PROVIDER GOES BUST
You discover the airline you’re flying with or the hotel you’ve booked has gone into administration.
If you bought a package holiday you are entitled to a total refund. Contact your tour operator.
Holiday hell: Our guide will help you fight for your rights and a refund should your dream trip turn into a nightmare
They might get you on the next available flight with a different airline or offer an alternative holiday.
It may be more expensive and you may have to pay the difference. If you don’t want to, ask for a full refund. Under EU rules introduced last week — called the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations — if you book two or more travel services with the same firm your trip counts as a package deal.
For example, if you bought a flight and a hire car through Expedia, it would be on the hook for the cost of the whole holiday if the airline goes bust. But you must have paid for both parts in one transaction.
These rules only apply to bookings made on or after July 1 this year.
Bookings before then could still be covered under the previous Flight Plus scheme, which is similar.
If you bought flights direct from the airline and booked a hotel separately, call your travel insurer.
To get a payout your policy must offer what is known as end supplier failure. Fewer than half do, according to Defaqto.
If you paid by credit card, you are protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
It means that your bank or card provider must refund you if you do not get the service you paid for.
To qualify, your trip must have cost more than £100 and been booked direct with the firm.
If you paid by debit card you may be able to claim money by making a Chargeback request.
To get a refund for accommodation, car hire and excursions you can no longer use, try to cancel your booking direct.
If you don’t have travel insurance and didn’t pay by card you could try to claim a refund from the administrators.
If you are overseas when the airline goes under, your travel firm should get you home. If you didn’t book a package holiday the Civil Aviation Authority should organise flights back.
If you miss your flight as a result of poor time-keeping, your airline is not obliged to help you
JAMS MEAN YOU MISS THE PLANE
If you miss your flight as a result of poor time-keeping, your airline is not obliged to help you.
Some show leniency and may change your flight for free or charge you a reduced fare.
A spokesman for British Airways says: ‘We look at each case on its individual merit. We might be less lenient if everyone boarded the flight and you hadn’t left enough time.
‘But we might be more accommodating if lots of people couldn’t make it because trains to the airport were delayed.’
If you have to pay you may be able to claim money from your travel insurer but you may not be covered by basic policies.
Most will only cover claims if the reason for missing your flight was out of your control. For example, if you were involved in an accident or there were public transport delays.
You may also be covered if the traffic is severe enough to be mentioned by a highways agency website, according to Wouter Van Rijn, head of travel at comparison site Compare the Market. You will have to prove you left home in good time.
FLIGHT DELAYED OR CANCELLED
The dreaded words ‘delayed’ flash up on the screen. If you’re on a short-haul flight — London to Dublin, for instance — you should be given food and drink after two hours.
For medium-haul flights — London to Tenerife — you’ll be offered something after three hours. And for long-haul — London to New York — it’s four.
Some airlines give a voucher for the terminal’s restaurants. There are no rules on how much you should get but the CAA says you should expect a ‘reasonable amount’ to cover a basic meal.
Many airlines say passengers should buy food and drink and claim the money back.
Be sensible — they won’t pay for three-course meals or alcoholic drinks.
If you’re on a short-haul flight — London to Dublin, for instance — which is delayed, you should be given food and drink after two hours
If you are delayed overnight, the firm should provide accommodation and transport back to the airport the next day.
If you arrive at your destination more than three hours late you are also entitled to compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004 — providing the reason for the delay was within the airline’s control. They won’t pay in the event of bad weather.
You must be travelling on an EU airline or departing from an EU airport to qualify.
How much you get depends on length of journey — and delay.
For example, if a short-haul flight lands more than three hours late you can claim €250 (£221). If a long-haul trip lands between three and four hours late you’ll get €300, or €600 for longer delays.
For a list of amounts visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ and type in ‘claim compensation for a holiday’.
If you are delayed for five hours or more and decide not to travel, you can demand a full fare refund on top of compensation.
Passengers catching connecting flights should also be able to claim compensation for them following a European Court of Justice ruling last month.
Previously, if you were travelling from London to Australia via Singapore or Hong Kong, for example, and the first flight was delayed causing you to miss your connecting flight, airlines tried to wriggle out of compensation. To qualify the flights must be under one booking.
If your flight is cancelled your airline should put you on the next available flight — even if it is with another firm.
If you booked a package holiday your agent or tour operator is responsible for arranging new flights or providing a refund.
You may also be entitled to compensation — see the earlier citizens advice link.
YOUR LUGGAGE GOES MISSING
Your bags aren’t on the carousel. Report the loss at the baggage desk before you leave.
Ask for a Property Irregularity Report. Fill in details including your name, flight number and a description of the bag. You’ll get a reference number and a copy of the form.
Submit a written claim to the airline— within seven days for damaged bags, or 21 for lost luggage. Forms can be found on airline websites or will be posted to you if you call.
If your bags aren’t on the carousel. Report the loss at the baggage desk before you leave
Airlines try to reunite passengers with bags within 72 hours. In the meantime the CAA says you can buy basic items and claim the cost back from the airline. Each airline has their own rules on how much they will pay.
British Airways pays for essential items such as toiletries and basic clothing up to ‘a reasonable value’. Easyjet pays up to £25 a day for up to three days if your luggage is not returned within 24 hours.
You must have receipts and some airlines expect you to claim within three weeks of returning.
If luggage is damaged or lost you’ll need to provide proof of the value of the bag and contents. The maximum firms will pay in compensation is around £1,200 but most wouldn’t offer that much, according to the CAA. They are unlikely to replace old with new.
Some travel insurers will pay out for lost luggage. For example, Post Office pays out between £1,000 and £3,000 — though a typical excess can be up to £150.
Most travel insurers usually refuse to cover valuables such as laptops, jewellery and cash stored in checked-in bags.
YOUR HOTEL IS A BUILDING SITE
The hotel looks nothing like it did in the brochure and the food is disgusting. Complain to the owner and see if they can make things right.
Ask for a partial refund if you feel misled. If you booked through a tour operator call them and ask to be moved to a different hotel.
Travellers on package holidays are also entitled to extra help with complaints from the Association of British Travel Agents
‘Just make sure you are happy with the new hotel or any subsequent compensation claims may be refused,’ warns Rory Boland, Which? travel editor.
If the hotel won’t help you’ll have to decide whether to walk out and pay for different accommodation or stay put.
Collect evidence including photographs and staff names.
Submit this to your tour operator or the booking site you bought from. Be clear about how much compensation you want.
First, loss of value. Say, for example, you paid for a room with a sea-view but didn’t get one.
Second, expenses — you had to pay for dinner each night because the food was awful.
Finally, loss of enjoyment. This includes compensation for any disappointment and distress.
Travellers on package holidays are also entitled to extra help with complaints from the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta). Visit abta.com or call 0203 117 0599.
If you paid by credit card you may be able to claim some of the cost back from your bank.
It may take a fight, though, as banks often argue that the quality of a hotel is subjective.
But in one recent case the Financial Ombudsman Service ordered a bank to repay a man half the cost of his hotel after he complained he had been put in a ‘dilapidated and dangerous’ room with no air conditioning.
In another a family received 15 per cent of the cost of their holiday villa booking back, plus £150 compensation because they were promised a luxurious villa but their room contained camp beds.
Martyn James of complaints site Resolver says: ‘You may also be able to use the same principle to claim back holiday costs on your credit card if the hotel restaurant is not good enough — however you must be able to prove that the food offered by the hotel was a major factor in your booking it or it is part of a catalogue of faults.’
YOU NEED TO GO TO HOSPITAL
You feel ill or have had an accident. If you are in Europe and it’s not an emergency ask at the hotel for a public hospital so you can use your European Health Insurance Card — or Ehic.
It entitles you to the same state-provided healthcare as locals — but that doesn’t always mean free treatment.
For any extra costs, or if you are travelling outside of the EU, you must inform your travel insurer.
Most insurers will also refuse to cover the cost of treatment at private hospitals when there is a public one nearby
In serious cases they will typically step in to liaise with the hospital over the bill.
For expensive bills, clarify whether your travel insurer will reimburse you before paying and make a note of what was said in case it changes its mind.
For minor incidents, such as needing antibiotics, you may need to pay and claim the money.
Check the small print for any exclusions. Remember that if you’ve been drinking your insurer may ask the hospital for blood alcohol results.
Most insurers will also refuse to cover the cost of treatment at private hospitals when there is a public one nearby.
Carry a credit card to use in emergencies and keep the number for your insurer’s emergency helpline in your mobile phone.
YOU’VE BEEN PICK-POCKETED
Your bag or wallet has been stolen. To make an insurance claim you must get a local police report within 24 hours.
And you must call your insurer to report the loss as soon as you can. Keep a record.
If you left your valuables unattended or were drunk when they were stolen, your claim will almost certainly be rejected
If you left your valuables unattended or were drunk when they were stolen, your claim will almost certainly be rejected.
Insurers may also refuse claims if you left valuables in a car or didn’t lock them in a hotel room safe.
In the UK, some policies only cover you if you’re away for at least two or three nights and are a certain distance from home.
For example, the AA’s travel insurance policy is only valid for UK travel where you have at least two nights planned with pre-booked accommodation or transport at least 50 miles from home.
You need proof of ownership to claim, such as a receipt, or a photograph of you wearing the item if it’s jewellery.
Take an extra credit or debit card and keep it in a different place. If you think your claim was wrongly turned down complain to the Financial Ombudsman by calling 0800 023 4567.
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