How to claim if you're unhappy with your package holiday

It's your holiday provider's responsibility to ensure you get what you've paid for and to sort out any problems. If they don't, you have the right to complain and claim.

Top tips

  • Report a problem as soon as it happens
  • follow the company's complaints policy and report your issue to your rep
  • keep records of who you've spoken to as well as photos and videos of your complaint
  • make a formal complaint as soon as you get home.

1 Your right to complain

Under the Package Travel Regulations, you have the right to make a claim for:

  • Loss of value (the difference in value between what you booked and what you got)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of enjoyment, inconvenience, or disappointment.

2 Complain to the holiday provider

Your first step to claiming for an unsatisfactory package holiday is via the holiday provider.

You have a duty to give your holiday company a chance to put right any problems that occur. 

Most companies will have a complaints policy in their terms and conditions, so make sure you read these and follow the appropriate steps. 

If the problem can’t be solved while you're on your holiday, you can make a formal complaint to the company when you get home.

3 Complain to a trade association

If you can't resolve the problem with the company directly, you should contact the company's trade association. 

Many package holiday companies are members of either Abta or  Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO).

4 Claim against an ABTA company

If your company is a member of ABTA(The Travel Association) they will be bound by the Association's code of conduct. This requires certain standards of service, including promptly paying any applicable refunds. ABTA members who break the code can be fined.

To make a complaint to ABTA, you must first complain directly to the company, which should send you a full response within 28 days. 

If they don't, or you're not satisfied with the reply, you can then lodge the complaint with ABTA. You can now do this online via a complaints hub. Be aware that the company you complain about will be able to view your complaint in full via the hub.

If you can't reach a settlement, ABTA also offers an arbitration service to cover alleged breaches of contract and negligence, and which makes legally binding decisions. 

5 Claim against an Aito company

The Association of Independent Tour Operators also runs an arbitration service, run by a third party company, Dispute Settlement Services.

Applications to the service must normally be made within nine months of the return date of the holiday. 

A mediator appointed by the company will rule each case and can require an AITO member to make a payment of up to £2,500 per person, or £10,000 per booking.

The operator is required to make a payment to the customer within 14 days of the ruling. Taking a claim to the service costs £110.

6 Use the small claims court

Before using the small claims court you should first try other means of dispute resolution. 

You don’t need a solicitor and the procedure is fairly informal, but it will take several months, and even if you win you don't automatically get the money you're owed.

You can claim up to £10,000 in England and Wales, and up to £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The most you'll have to pay as a fee for bringing the case is £485.

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