How to complain about your holiday booking

Do you feel misled by your travel agent, or have a complaint about a company you booked a holiday with? Follow our steps for an effective solution.

1 Complain to your travel agent

If you’ve got a complaint about a travel agent, you can write to the travel agent directly.

If the travel agent was acting on behalf of another party, such as an airline or tour operator, you should follow the relevant complaints procedure.

This will be contained in the booking terms and conditions, which you can request from the travel agent.

2 Don't be fobbed off

Getting compensation from a tour operator can be difficult, and you usually have to be quite tenacious.

If you think you have a good claim be persistent, and carry on complaining using the company’s formal complaints procedure.

If this doesn’t work, you could consider taking the tour operator to the small claims court.

You can use the small claims court for most breach of contract claims. The main restriction is on the amount for which you can claim. 

In England and Wales, you can claim up to £10,000 in the small claims court. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it’s £3,000.

3 Use ABTA complaints hub 

If the tour operator is a member of The Travel Association (ABTA), you can make a complaint using their online complaints hub

To find out if the company you booked through is a member of The Travel Association, you can find the ABTA logo and membership number on your booking documents.  ABTA also lists members on its website. 

You will need to provide details of your complaint, along with your booking confirmation invoice and your correspondence with the travel company before they can assist. Be aware that the tour operator that you're complaining about will be able to view your complaint in full. 

ABTA also has an arbitration service. Arbitration can be used to settle alleged breaches of contract and/or negligence between consumers and ABTA members.

If your claim includes an element of minor illness or personal injury, then this can be considered by the arbitrator, but is limited to £1,500 per person.

The ABTA arbitration is binding, and would prevent you from issuing subsequent court proceedings. 

4 Make an Atol claim

Travel agents and tour operators selling holidays involving a flight with hotels or car hire must give travellers an Atol certificate explaining how their holidays are protected.

Atol gives you financial protection when you book a package holiday.

An Atol also gives you protection for trips that are not a package, but include a flight with accommodation and/or car hire.

To make a claim under the Atol scheme, visit the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website, and download a form from the latest Atol failures section.

To make a claim follow these steps:

  • Find the name of the company you booked with, read through all the information and click onto the link for the claim form
  • Fill in and print out your completed form and send it to the address stated on the instructions that precede the claim form
  • If you paid via a travel agent, there will be sections of the form that your travel agent will be required to complete as well

5 Claim from credit card

If you pay for your holiday with your credit card, you have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if something goes wrong. 

This covers items and services costing over £100 and not more than £30,000. 

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