Everyone has a story about a holiday that's gone disastrously wrong - food poisoning, delayed and cancelled flights, poor accommodation and unruly neighbours. Most people don't realise however that the may be entitled to compensation for their troubles. Read below to find out what you can – and can’t – claim for if your summer break went horribly wrong. This is our guide to holiday compensation.
What Can You Claim For?
You cannot make a claim if you have made a bad decision, you didn't enjoy your holiday or you got unlucky with the weather. If however the package tour operator or one of their representatives is to blame, you may be eligible to claim compensation. A successful claim for compensation is usually based on proving the company failed to provide you with the holiday you were promised as part of a contract between and them and usually falls into one of the following areas.
- Lost value
The vacation you received was not worth as much money as the one booked e.g. you were put up in a hotel or room that was cheaper or lower grade than the one you booked. You can also claim for the time spend resolving any problems on your holiday. The basic idea here is to claim the difference in value between the holiday you paid for and the one you received.
If you had to spend money during your holiday as a direct result of the tour operators failings you should be entitled to get this money back. This may include expenditure on food if the meals provided were inedible or on accommodation if that provided was uninhabitable. The replacements must be of an equivalent value to those booked.
This compensation is based on any distress or disappointment caused when things go wrong during your vacation. Examples of this would include facilities that are closed during your stay (swimming pools, kids clubs). This is hard to put a value on and is often disputed by the defendant as it is a very subjective thing. A closed kids club can be a mild inconvenience for some while for others it was the main reason for choosing a particular resort.
Next Steps: Make A Claim
The first step in making a successful claim is to organise your evidence and collect the contact details of other people who faced the same issues during their holiday. These witnesses can back up your claim. Some notes on how the problems affected you (photo and video evidence will help). You must also keep a record of any money you've spent as a result of the issue along with receipts.
The next steps in the process are as follows;
- Send your complaint to your provider within 4 weeks of returning home.
- Send the complaint recorded delivery and keep copies of the supporting evidence.
- If you are an independent traveller you must send your complaint to the owner of the accommodation.
Established tour operators will have a formal complaints procedure. If they accept your claim they will propose a compensation amount. Feel free to negotiate this further.
Should the claim be turned down you can contact ABTA or AITO and raise the issue with them. These organisations provide a fair arbitration service. They will charge a fee if your claim goes through their arbitration scheme but they will give you advice on whether or not your claim has merit. The average amount awarded for successful claims is around £600.
If you are still unhappy the final option available to you is court action. For this you will need the support of a solicitor, preferably one with experience of such claims. Claims can be up to £10k in England/Wales and £3k in Scotland/Northern Ireland. If your claim is successful the defendant will be ordered by the court to pay you compensation plus your legal costs. If you lose your claim you may be faced with paying the defendant's costs as well as your own.
If You Had A Cancelled Flight Or The Airline Goes Bust
For flights within the EU, if they have been delayed by more than 3 hours or cancelled completely, you should be provided with food and if necessary accommodation by the airline. Accommodation must be provided if the delay is overnight. In addition you are able to claim between €250 & €600 in compensation. If the cancellation or delay has been caused by freak weather or volcanic eruptions you are not entitled to any compensation.
If your vacation is booked with an airline that's a member of ATOL and it goes bust, you’ll be given a 100% refund if you have yet to travel, or, if you're in the middle of your holiday, you'll be given a return flight at the end of your holiday.