Which? Legal

Advice on cancellations

You can get affordable advice on cancelling your package holiday, explaining your rights and weighing up your options.

When can I cancel my package holiday?

If any essential part of your package holiday is changed significantly, except the price, you can cancel without paying termination fees.

An essential part of the package could be any one of the following:

  • the precise accommodation, standard of accommodation and accommodation facilities
  • the type and standard of transport
  • the place of departure and destination
  • any facility or service advertised or promoted as forming a part of the package

Under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, you can also cancel your package holiday without termination fees if the price rises 8% or more after you’ve booked and paid for it.

You can also cancel without paying a termination fee if there are serious security problems at the destination which could affect one of the key parts (like your accommodation) of your package holiday.

If the company you booked with cancels your holiday, you’re entitled to a refund and possibly compensation where appropriate.

And if you want to cancel for any other reason, you can terminate the contract but you’ll have to pay a ‘reasonable and justifiable’ termination fee.

Usually, as it gets closer to the start of the trip, the percentage of the cost of the package increases. For example, if you cancel 60 days before it starts, you’ll lose 50% of its cost.

You can request the company’s justification for these fees if you think they’re unfair.

Will my package holiday still be covered after Brexit?

Be aware this is an area of consumer rights that could be affected by Brexit. We will update this information once we know more about how we will depart from the EU.

If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it's been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. This transitional period will last from the day the UK leaves the EU to 31 December 2020.

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, EU traders selling holiday packages or linked travel arrangements in or to the UK will be required to comply with the insolvency protection requirements under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 (PTR 2018) in the same way as all other traders. This means if the company you booked your package with goes bust, you’ll be protected.

But if a package travel organiser is not based in the UK, or does not direct its business to the UK, you should ask for clear information, including on the level of insolvency protection, before you commit to the purchase. You won't be protected by PTR 2018 but you may be covered by insolvency protections in the member state of the European Union.

Bear in mind that taking enforcement action against any seller based outside the UK after Brexit is likely to be more difficult than is currently the case.

Read our guide on how Brexit could impact consumer rights for more information.

You can also sign up for Brexit advice updates - Which? cuts through the noise to find the facts. Our practical and impartial consumer advice, rigorously researched and regularly delivered by email, can help you prepare for the UK leaving the EU.

Can I transfer my package holiday to someone else?

You can transfer your package holiday to someone else as long as they meet all the requirements of the trip - for example, the age requirement.

You must also tell the organiser seven days or more before the start of the trip.

The organiser is within their rights to charge you a transfer (or administration) fee, but these mustn’t be unreasonable or exceed the cost incurred by the organiser for the transfer.

The package holiday organiser has to be able to provide proof of the transfer costs.

You and the person you transfer the package holiday to are jointly liable to pay the transfer costs.

Can I claim compensation through my insurer?

If you need to cancel your holiday, you're not legally entitled to a refund from the tour operator under refund law. 

But you may be able to claim back the cost of the holiday from your travel insurance provider. Check your travel insurance policy to see if you're entitled to compensation. 

Travel insurance will usually pay you compensation if you have to cancel or cut short your trip, because of illness, for example, or the death of a close relative.

Our Best Buy travel insurance policies all have a limit of at least £3,000.

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