How to – Cancel a holiday stress-free

3 min read
April 16, 2019

16/04/2019 Have you booked a holiday that you’ve got to cancel? You’re in luck: Resolver is here with the definitive guide to your rights.

Sometimes cancelling a trip is absolutely unavoidable. Here are your rights for when things go wrong.

Quick tips

  • If you want to cancel a holiday then a firm has to have clear and fair T&Cs covering what – if anything – you’ll have to pay.
  • This should cover the firm’s losses and should not be excessive.
  • If the charge is unclear or you weren’t told (read those pop-up windows when booking too!) then you should complain.
  • A packaged holiday gives you a few more rights if the holiday goes up in price after booking or significant changes.
  • There are organisations like ATOL and ABTA that may be able to help if there’s a cancellation or problem.
  • If a firm goes bust or cancels in breach of your contract, it’s important to get the cash back asap. Check with the hotel/flights/etc to see if they can keep the booking open.
  • Don’t panic buy! Shop around for the best price, including on the website of the hotel/airline/etc.
  • Check to see if there’s a free cancellation policy – but note when it ends.
  • If you pay by credit card, you have more consumer protection if the firm goes bust – but only if you buy direct, not through a third party.
  • Always take out a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy.

If you just want to cancel a holiday

If you book through a travel agent, tour operator, online website or direct, the firm 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 cancellation 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 cancellation ends.

The CMA have loads of guidance on unfair terms and costs on their website as part of their campaign.

If you cancel a packaged holiday.

New rules that kicked in last July (the Packaged Travel and Linked Travel Regulations 2018) mean that if 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 travelling 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 cancellation 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 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 ‘chargeback’ the money. Explain the 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.

Other protection

If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then ATOL can help with disputes and cancellations. If it’s without a flight or a cruise the ABTA can potentially help. Their websites have guides on how to proceed.

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