The rules around what makes up a package holiday sold in the UK have changed. If you booked your holiday before 1 July 2018, it's only a package when you contract one company to provide at least two of the following components:
By law you have the right to expect that the holiday you booked and paid for matches the description given to you when you bought it. So, pay careful attention to how the package holiday is described by your travel agent, in the brochure or a website.
If the holiday doesn’t match how it was described, The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018 (The Regulations) - which implement the EU's Package Travel Directive 2015 - give you the right to ask your tour operator to put it right and - if it’s unable to - claim compensation.
If you were unhappy with your package holiday, see our step-by-step guide to claim compensation for a poor package holiday.
In relation to any claim, it's essential to establish whether your holiday benefits from the protection of The Regulations.
Your holiday is probably a package if:
In summary: If your holiday looked like a package deal when you bought it - it probably is.
Even if your holiday doesn’t fall into one of these definitions, it could still be a ‘Linked Travel Arrangement’.
A Linked Travel Arrangement is when you buy one service from a tour operator and are then prompted to buy another - but your information and payment details aren’t transferred.
For example if an email with your flight information has a link to a hotel site which you then book, but you have to re-enter your travel dates, location, personal information and payment details.
You must also buy these services within 24 hours of each other for them to be considered a Linked Travel Arrangement.
It's the responsibility of the first travel company to tell you that you’ve been sold a Linked Travel Arrangement.
If you have a Linked Travel Arrangement, you don’t have the same level of protection if something goes wrong but you will benefit from insolvency protection.
That means if one of the companies goes bust, you'll get your money back.
The Regulations don’t apply if any of the following are true:
The Regulations only apply to packages sold or offered for sale in the UK.
Before you book your package holiday, you have to be told:
If something goes wrong with your trip - such as the room you were given wasn’t what was advertised, the food was inedible or even if there was an injury or illness caused by a company - the onus is on the organiser you booked the package with to put it right.
But you have to tell the travel company as soon as possible so they can try fix the situation.
Before you go on your package holiday, whoever you booked your holiday with should give you a contact number in case something happens.
Then if something does go wrong, they're obliged to help you and provide assistance without undue delay, including:
Your package holiday travel organiser is allowed to charge a fee for helping you if the difficulty was caused by something you did or your own negligence, but the fee must:
But if the travel organiser can prove that something went wrong because of something you or a company totally unconnected to the package deal did, or there were unforeseeable or extraordinary circumstances, then they may not have to pay out compensation.
We have more information about how to claim if you’re unhappy with your package holiday.
If after departure a significant proportion of the services contracted for is not provided, or the organiser becomes aware that they will be unable to procure a significant proportion of them:
If you want to claim compensation for a package holiday, damages in travel claims can usually be broken down into four headings, although your complaint may not fall into every category:
In the case of unsatisfactory-quality complaints, there are no set guidelines as to the assessment of damages.
In many of the reported cases, the judge does not separate the damages for loss of value and loss of enjoyment, but awards an aggregate amount.
We recommend, though, that you still set out your claims separately. Presenting the case in a detailed and logical format will facilitate an earlier settlement, and is likely to achieve a better settlement for you.
Once you’ve agreed to and paid for your package holiday, the price can only be increased if:
And you must be shown how the pay increase was calculated.
On the other hand, you’re also entitled to a price reduction if any of the above factors drop in price, but the travel agent is allowed to deduct any admin fees from however much money you get back.
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.
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:
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.
If the organiser or the retailer becomes insolvent, your payment for your package holiday will be refunded through ATOL protection.
Linked Travel Arrangements have separate insolvency protections.