Your holiday problems solved
We all look forward to our week or two in the sun – but things can (and do) go wrong. So what you should do in the event of a holiday disaster? We asked the experts…
Our expert panel
Gillian Edwards is spokesperson for ABTA, the UK’s leading travel association, abta.com
Andrew Boldt is specialist insurance broker for Insurance Tailors, insurancetailors.com
Lorna Cowan is travel expert for Which?, the UK consumer campaigning charity, which.co.uk
My travel operator has gone bust and we’re just a few days from our holiday. Can we get our money back?
Gillian Edwards says, “If you booked a package holiday with your travel operator, then you’re covered under European law and will get your money back. But if you booked your flight and/or hotel separately, and the airline or hotel goes bust, then that’s a different story – and you’ll need to check your travel insurance policy to find out what you may or may not be covered for.”
I thought we had travel insurance, but it’s expired and we’re already abroad. What happens if one of us gets ill?
Andrew Boldt says, “Unfortunately, it’s unlikely you could achieve cover under these circumstances. It would be very unusual for an insurer to agree to provide cover once the potential insured has already left the UK. If you find yourself in this situation, I would suggest calling a UK broker who may be able to help you out, depending on the circumstances. If you are in a qualifying UK country, are carrying an EHIC card and happen to fall ill, then you may be able to receive free or discounted medical treatment in some state-run hospitals and GP surgeries.”
The hotel doesn’t live up to its description in the brochure, and it’s really affecting our enjoyment. Can we demand to move hotels without paying more?
Gillian Edwards says, “Legally, you have to prove that the hotel doesn’t meet its description. Talk to the hotel management and/or travel representative as soon as you can, and point out exactly what it is that’s misrepresented. They should then make a decision about whether you can be moved. But don’t expect an upgrade – you should receive an equivalent standard of accommodation. If the hotel or travel rep doesn’t help, take photos, complain in writing and pick it up with the relevant companies as soon as you get home. If you still don’t get results, then call the ABTA helpline on 020 3117 0599 and we’ll chase them for you.”
Our suitcases went missing at the airport. They don’t know when we’ll get them back. What do we do now?
Lorna Cowan says, “The first thing to do would be to complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) at the luggage handling counter at the airport. The agent will be able to track your luggage via its barcode (attached to your passport). The agent will also ask for details of your future whereabouts so that they can return the bag to you if it turns up, which in most cases will be in the next day or two. Airlines generally do not accept liability for inconvenience, but if the flight is part of a package holiday you can claim for this against the tour operator.”
The plane has been delayed for hours and the airline hasn’t looked after us properly. What can we get compensation for – and how do we claim it?
Lorna Cowan says, “If you are flying from the EU or into the EU on an airline that’s based in Europe, the ‘Denied Boarding Regulation’ gives you rights directly against the airline to claim for compensation if the flight is the subject of a long delay (three hours or more), although compensation isn’t payable if the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. To claim, complain to the airline as soon as possible.”
However things are different if you’re travelling with a non-EU based airline flying from a non-EU destination. “In this case, the airline doesn’t have the same duty to look after you. Check the individual airline’s ‘Condition of Carriage’ to see what you’re entitled to. It’s also worth checking your travel insurance as you may be able to claim money for a significant delay and for any other elements of your trip that are affected by the delay including hotels and hire cars.”
We hired a car in France and someone bumped us and damaged the car, then drove off. How do we make sure the hire company doesn’t think it was our fault?
Gillian Edwards says, “Unfortunately, you can’t – and it’s highly unlikely you’ll track down the other party and get them to admit fault. This is where you really need to be prepared and forearmed. I strongly advise anyone hiring a car to take out ‘Collision Damage Waiver’ as an option – this would provide cover were you unlucky enough to experience such a scenario.”
A couple of us ate at the hotel buffet and suffered terrible food poisoning – we weren’t the only family this happened to. The hotel says it’s not their fault but we disagree – how can we get the hotel to admit responsibility?
Gillian Edwards says, “Continue your case with your tour operator when you get home – if this doesn’t work, contact ABTA on the number above and we’ll act as an intermediary. In this instance, I’d be surprised if a letter from us to the tour operator didn’t do the trick. But if the company continues to dispute your claims, your case will go to our arbitration scheme, where an independent panel considers your case. There is a small fee involved, but you do get the fee back if your case is successful.”