Guest article by Martyn James of complaints website Resolver.
The weather is starting to look better, summer is in sight and Brits across the land are considering booking holidays. But what if you can’t travel – or there’s a problem with the firm – and you need to cancel a holiday? Here’s my guide to cancelling a holiday without costs – and what to do if they cancel on you!
If you just want to cancel a holiday
If you book through a travel agent, tour operator, online website or direct, the business will have terms and conditions covering your right to cancel. If there are costs attached then these should be upfront and clear. Under consumer law, businesses can ask you to pay a cancellation fee to cover their losses. But this must be ‘in proportion’ to what they are losing. If a holiday is non-refundable, we’d expect to see a ton of clear warnings before you click.
Many booking sites give you free cancelation as an option which you should always choose if it’s available – while popping something in your diary for a few weeks before the free cancelation ends.
MARTYN’S TIP: The Competitions and Markets Authority have loads of guidance on unfair terms and costs on their website.
If you cancel a packaged holiday
New rules that kicked in last July [the Packaged Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018] mean that it you booked two or more different parts of a holiday (flights and hotel for example) from the same firm, it’s likely to be a ‘packaged holiday’. This is also likely to be the case if you’ve booked through a tour operator
This means you might be entitled to cancel the holiday without a fee if:
- The holiday company makes significant changes to your holiday
- It puts prices up after you book
This also covers exceptional reasons for the holiday being cancelled (dangers in the country you’re traveling to, for example).
What if I can’t travel?
It’s incredibly important to get a good travel insurance policy that covers you from the point you book the holiday, not the day you go away.
If you buy travel insurance with immediate cover, this should cover you for things like cancelation or curtailment if you:
- Can’t travel due to illness
- Can’t travel due to sickness or death of an immediate family member
There are other scenarios that may be covered depending on the policy. There’s also a load of caveats unfortunately. But don’t worry – if the firm won’t pay a claim, the free Financial Ombudsman Service can look at travel insurance disputes.
What if the firm cancels my trip or goes bust?
If a firm cancel and you’re worried it’s going out of business, contact the airlines, hotels and other companies who you were booked with to see if they have your money and are able to reopen or honour the booking.
If it’s not looking positive, then don’t delay. Contact your card provider and ask them to ‘charge back’ the money. Explain that the company has told you they are cancelling the holiday or indications are they’re going bust.
If you’ve paid on a credit card (over £100 and under £30,000) you may be able to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for a full refund from the card provider – even if you only paid a deposit on the card.
If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then ATOL can help with disputes and cancelations. If it’s without a flight or a cruise the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) can potentially help. Their website has guides on how to proceed.
Airlines also have dispute resolution schemes (Resolver links you to the right ones).
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