Coronavirus and package holidays
- Cancellations If you've booked a package holiday and the tour operator or travel agent cancels it, you are due a full refund to be paid within 14 days.
- Rebook if you decide to cancel when the holiday can still go ahead, you could lose all of your money paid to date. It's a good idea to move your booking to a later date if possible.
- Read the latest Coronavirus and travel advice from Which?.
1 Is it a package holiday?
Package holidays are holidays where you booked your flight and accommodation at the same time, through the same travel company. It could also include transfers, car hire and tours if you booked these at the same time as your flight and accommodation.
If you've booked a package holiday you're protected by the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018.
If you're holiday is cancelled, delayed or substantially changed it gives you the right to make a claim for:
- Loss of value The difference in value between what you booked and what you got. For example you might have been moved to a lower standard hotel room, or a different cheaper hotel.
- Out-of-pocket expenses If you have to pay-out anything extra because of a failure by the travel operator. This could include paying for your own transfers if those booked as part of the package didn't turn up.
- Loss of enjoyment, inconvenience, or disappointment. If the hotel is a building site, or your holiday is cut short for whatever reason you can claim some money back
Or your rights if you want to cancel the holiday.
If your holiday is cancelled the Package Travel Regulations gives you three options. 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.
Change of accommodation
If a tour operator makes a significant change to your accommodation, it 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 Package Travel Regulations 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.
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 says in the terms and conditions that the price increase might happen
- They’re as a result of the rise in the cost of fuel or other power sources
- The taxes or fees imposed by other third parties are increased, like tourist taxes, port or airport fees
- The exchange rates relevant to the package increase
If the pay increase equals 8% or more of the total cost of your package holiday, you must be told at least 20 days before the holiday is due to start and be provided a clear calculation of the price rise.
If you don’t want to pay an increase of 8% or more, you can cancel the booking without termination fees.
2 Check the paperwork
When you booked your holiday, you should have been given plenty of paperwork including a description of your holiday, an itinerary and terms and condition'. If not, you can usually find a lot of this information on the travel company's website.
The terms and conditions in particular will outline the company's responsibilities to you, and your responsibilities as a customer. If you think it has let you down on its part of the deal, you'll have a strong argument to make a complaint.
3 Complain to your travel agent
If you want to complain about your holiday, start by writing directly to the company you booked with.
If the travel agent was acting for another party, such as an airline or tour operator, follow its complaints procedure. It should be explained in the paperwork you were given when you booked the holiday or on the agents website.
You can use our tool to start your letter of complaint.
Complain about a holiday
If you booked a holiday and it didn’t go how you planned, we can help you make a claim.Complain about a holiday
4 Complain to a travel industry association
If the tour operator is a member of a travel trade association, you can make a complaint to them and try to resolve your issue using their arbitration services.
- The Travel Association (ABTA) If your holiday company is an ABTA member, 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, look for the ABTA logo and a membership number on your booking documents. ABTA also lists members on its website. If you take the ABTA arbitration route, you won't be able to take the company involved to court in the future.
- The Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) Aito also runs an arbitration service, run by a third party company, Dispute Settlement Services. Making a claim through this service costs £110. If a travel company is found to be in the wrong, it can be asked to pay out up to a maximum of £2,500 per person, or £10,000 per booking.
5 Use debit or credit card protections
If you paid for your holiday using a credit card, you might be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you didn't get what you paid for.
Section 75 can cover holidays costing more than £100 and up to £30,000.
If you paid for your holiday using a debit card, you might also be able to claim your money back using chargeback.
Get in touch with your bank or card provider to ask if you can make a claim using Section 75 or chargeback.
6 Take your case to the small claims court
Getting compensation from a tour operator can sometimes be difficult, and you usually have to be persistent.
If you think you have a strong grounds for making a claim, keep 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 claims that involve a breach of contract. In other words, when you didn't get what you were told you were paying for.
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.