It is the responsibility of the company that provides and organises your holiday to ensure you get what you have paid for and sort out any problems.
There are rules under the Package Travel Regulations (PTR) that travel agents must comply with.
If your package holiday is cancelled or any part, such as the hotel, is changed significantly before you leave, you have the right to:
- a refund, with no cancellation fee
- accept an inferior quality substitute and get a refund for the price difference
- accept an equivalent or superior holiday without having to pay more.
Change of accommodation
Under Regulation 12 of the Package Travel Regulations (PTR), if a tour operator makes a significant change to your accommodation, they must:
- give you the choice of accepting the change (with a downward price adjustment if it’s a lesser hotel)
- offer you a refund, with no cancellation fee.
You do not have to pay for an enforced upgrade. The PTRs say the tour operator is responsible for the hotel owner’s actions, so they have to make suitable alternative arrangements for the continuation of the package.
Any changes should be at no extra cost to the holidaymaker. So if the only alternative accommodation is more expensive, the tour operator will have to pay.
If you have paid extra money for an enforced upgrade, you should claim it back.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be entitled to compensation. The regulations allow you to claim compensation to cover any loss of enjoyment or inconvenience you may have suffered, for example, if you lost a day's holiday sorting things out and moving hotels.
Change of holiday cost
Once a holiday is confirmed, a tour operator can only increase the cost if all of the following conditions are met:
- it is more than 30 days before your departure
- the booking conditions mention surcharges
- the increase is due to an increase in transport costs, fees or taxes, or a change in the exchange rate.
The tour operator must absorb the first 2% of the increase.
If the increase represents a 'significant' change in price (ABTA argues this means more than 10%), then under the Package Travel Regulations you must be given the opportunity to cancel the holiday. The 10% figure is only a guide, and a smaller percentage increase could still be considered 'significant' on expensive holidays.
Your holiday is covered by an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (Atol), which means you will be refunded if your holiday is cancelled because a firm goes bust.
If your holiday is cancelled for other reasons, you have three options under the PTR. You can:
- take a package of equal or superior quality from the operator
- take a package of lower quality and recover the difference in price between the packages
- receive a full refund.
If changes are due to circumstances beyond your holiday company’s control (such as war or earthquakes) then you are not normally entitled to compensation.
But if the company knew of a problem and let you go anyway, you may be able to claim for stress or disappointment. This may include any day's holiday you lose by sorting things out or moving accommodation.