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Top tips if something goes wrong on your holiday

Which? reveals your rights when holidays go pear-shaped


As the holiday season draws closer, Which? reveals your rights if something goes wrong when travelling in the UK, or further afield this summer.

Cancelled or delayed flights

If you’re delayed when travelling with an EU-based airline or flying from an EU airport, the Denied Boarding Regulations mean you’re entitled to compensation and assistance depending on the length of your delay.

If your EU flight gets cancelled, you’re entitled to a full refund within seven days, plus assistance such as phone calls and accommodation where reasonable.

Use our letter template to claim compensation for cancelled or delayed flights.

Lost or damaged luggage

Baggage is a big area of complaint for air passengers. If your luggage is damaged or lost, you can claim compensation from the airline or your travel insurance provider.

Unless you make a ‘special declaration of interest in the delivery of your luggage,’ the most an airline can pay you is €1,131 in compensation for damage or loss.

To claim compensation for damage, write to the airline within seven days of receiving your luggage.

For lost luggage, you’ve got seven days after its been declared lost to make your claim. Luggage is only declared lost if it hasn’t been returned to you after 21 days.

Disappointing holiday accommodation

A recent survey of over 5000 Which? members found that almost 50% of holidaymakers have felt let down by holiday accommodation.

If you’re disappointed by holiday accommodation, remember that UK travel companies and hotels are covered by the Supply of Goods and Services Act, which states accommodation must be of a reasonable standard and meet advertised promises.

If not, you may be able to claim compensation from your hotelier, or claim for loss of enjoyment from your tour operator.

The Package Travel Regulations give you protection if you’ve booked your accommodation as part of a package holiday. 

Unexpected events abroad

Natural disaster and civil unrest may be the last thing on a holidaymaker’s mind, but if your holiday is at risk, you may be able to cancel it.

Travel operators that can provide a safe, secure and enjoyable holiday aren’t obliged to offer a refund or alternative trip.

But if you’re worried and you booked a package holiday, you may be able to claim that your enjoyment and relaxation would be ruined under the Package Travel Regulations.

Accidents and emergencies

If you fall ill or have an accident on holiday, the costs can be eye-watering.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is free of charge and entitles you to the same medical care as a resident of the EU country you’re visiting.

Alternatively, check that your travel insurance policy covers illness or injury.

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