Holiday problems on the rise

Holiday problems on the rise as consumers don’t get what they’ve paid for

Flights that don’t exist, hotels next to rubbish dumps and cancelled transfers leaving people stranded are just some of the problems making people’s holidays a misery, says Citizens Advice.

As the holiday season gets underway, Citizens Advice is sharing its top tips for travelling to help people avoid their dream holiday becoming a nightmare.

The advice comes as new figures from the national charity reveal a rise in people seeking advice about holiday and travel matters:

The Citizens Advice consumer service helped with 9,400 problems with package deals, flights and travel insurance between April 2015 and March 2016, up 9% from the previous year. Similarly there was an 8% increase in people seeking online help, with advice on solving holiday problems viewed 152,000 times over the same period, up from 141,000 the year before**.

Common holiday issues reported to the consumer service included poor customer service, deals being misrepresented and breach of contract, where holiday firms promise one thing but deliver another.

Issues around breach of contract showed the steepest rise, with 35% more problems reported to Citizens Advice in comparison to the year before. These included substandard accommodation, people being booked onto flights that didn’t exist and tour operators swapping people’s holidays without offering them a chance to cancel.

Citizens Advice top tips for summer holidays
Package holidays
  • Most holiday providers don’t provide a refund if you cancel. Take out travel insurance from the day you booked the deal.
  • Tour operators sometimes need to change your holiday before you go. If the change is significant, you don’t have to accept and can ask for a full refund.
  • All flights, transfers and accommodation should be as described. If your beach hotel is in the middle of town, complain straight away to a rep. If no alternative is offered, use the tour operator’s complaints procedure to see if you’re entitled to compensation.
  • If you booked a flight that departed from the EU, or arrived in the EU on a European airline, you may be able to claim compensation if your flight is delayed. What you’re entitled to depends on the length of the delay, length of the flight and the reason for the delay.
  • Wherever you’re flying, if your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a replacement flight or a refund.
  • If your checked-in luggage is delayed, lost or damaged you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. You can claim compensation straight from the airline but they usually offer less financial compensation.
Travel insurance
  • Cheap travel insurance can keep your initial costs down but often has high excess charges if you need to claim. Compare the full range of costs.
  • Make sure your travel insurance covers everything you want to do on holiday. Some policies exclude activities such as water sports or trekking.
  • Some policies won’t pay out in certain circumstances – like having an accident while under the influence of alcohol. Read the small print before you buy.
If your travel company or airline goes bust
  • If your holiday company or airline goes bust but is a member of the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) then you should be able to get a refund if you haven’t travelled, or be able to finish your holiday without extra costs if you are already there.
  • There are limited options if it isn’t covered by ATOL but you could try getting money back from your credit or debit company if you paid by card and you’re not offered an alternative option. Or you could see if you’re covered by your travel insurance

**The analysis of holiday issues reported to the consumer service in England and Wales covered package holidays, flights and travel insurance. In 2015/16, the consumer service helped with 9,387 problems, a rise of 9% from 8,592 in 2014/15.