What to do if Things go Wrong or You need to make a Complaint about your Holiday!

We all hope that this is not going to be something that is necessary but when we travel even the best laid plans can go wrong.

Flights get delayed or cancelled, Transfers don’t Turn up or Hotels are not up to the standard they advertise. Food is poor or perhaps you are not getting what you believed was included in your package.

Perhaps it is none of these things but an issue with weather or another natural disaster which has caused the issue.

Believe you me over the course of my 30 years in Travel I really have seen it all and in Truth I have experienced quite a bit of it as well.

Top Tip: When you book a Cruise or other Holiday or package, take the time when you are doing the booking with your agent to clarify what you are getting for your money. When it comes to booking many of my customers try to rush through the formalities, but it really is important to go back over the full itinerary and so you both know what is included. This is also your time to ask questions. You may have discussed several different options before deciding on one and they may have included different things so make sure you know what relates to the offer you are booking to avoid confusion.

Then when you get your confirmation invoice. Read it. I always advise customers to read it, but you would be surprised how many don’t. This is your chance to check that names and dates of birth are correct, and all the details are right and go back to your Agent if there are any discrepancies so they can be rectified immeadiately.

However back to the reason for this Blog.

What if despite everything being booked correctly, things go wrong.

Flight Issues

If your flight is delayed, Don’t Panic. Check to see if this is going to impact on your onward travel. Onward flights or Cruise etc. If it is, then you need to contact your Agent.  They can then help to sort out an alternate option or notify hotels etc that you are delayed.

If it is not going to affect anything, depending on the length of the delay make sure you get something in writing from the Airline if you later plan to make a claim against them. Remember compensation is only valid on European flights and long haul options may not be covered except with your insurance.  Also remember that delays due to weather are not covered under this compensation scheme.

Top Tip: If you book seats and pay for them, the airline will email you a receipt of this. Make sure you take it with you when you travel to avoid any arguments at check-in.


If your organised transfer does not turn up, read the voucher again to make sure you are in the right place. Follow the instructions and call the number given for emergencies. They usually have a 24-hour line back home if the emergency number is not answering. If you cannot get through call the supplier. Again, a number is usually on the voucher.  If all else fails and you have waited, and the Transfer has still not turned up then get a Taxi and a receipt and advise your Agent as soon as possible.

Issues at your Hotel or on your Cruise

If you arrive and find there is a problem with the standard, cleanliness, food or if there is an issue with disturbance etc… at your hotel or on your Cruise then please try to resolve it straight away. I am not saying this is always possible but if you don’t give the provider a chance to rectify any issues this could affect your claim when you get back to the UK. Also, if they can resolve it you are going to enjoy your holiday more so why not let them try.

Top Tip: Keep your temper. No matter how you feel about the situation, getting Irate is not going to help your case.

If they refuse to help, then you should ask them to give you something in writing to say you have lodged a complaint. This way you have something to use when you return home in order to complain.  Look at the supplier/provider on the Voucher and try to contact them directly or if things are really bad and you can’t resolve it contact your Agent by phone or email as they may be able to help resolve things even though they are not with you.

If you have an issue with a particular staff member take down their names. Most wear name badges and if they don’t ask for their name.

Write down any issues you have and put them in date order as it is easy to get confused after you return, and this can make you look silly if dates and events don’t tally.

Take Pictures if applicable to back up your story.

Keep your Agent in the loop.

On your Return to the UK

Call or email your Agent and let them know what has been going on. You will need to put it in writing, but you can call first to explain.

They can then forward your complaint to the relevant parties on your behalf.

Top Tip: Keep your complaints real and don’t get petty.  Make sure you put in the complaint what you are expecting to get back as compensation or you could spend weeks going backwards and forwards. I am not saying you will get what you ask for, but if they are unaware of your expectations it makes the process harder. On the flip side of this keep your expectations realistic. Ask yourself what have I lost from the holiday and what is this worth? If this goes to court, emotions will not come into it. Courts deal in contracts and what has been broken or not delivered on.

What should I do If I am not happy with a response?

You should always write again if you do not get the response you wanted and make sure you answer the points they made in turn. Point out anything they missed out that was in your original letter and again what you feel is reasonable compensation with your reasons for this.

If you still do not get anywhere you may want to contact ABTA.  There website has  lots of advice on what constitutes a claim and  what process to follow.

There is also advice on taking your claim  court or to arbitration.

Click the link below for access to the site.


If anyone has any Hints or tips of their own from past experience please feel free to share.




About Me

I have worked in the Travel Industry for 30 years, ever since leaving school. My Dad was in the Navy so I guess I get my wanderlust from him. I was a Manager in a successful Travel Agency for 16 years before joining Cruise.co.uk. I am married and have a son who…

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