Subscriber OnlyTravel

How to cope when things go wrong on holiday

Conor Pope: Follow this checklist and it just may be of assistance when you most need a steer in the right direction

Know the rules

The very first and best way to deal with issues is to avoid them happening in the first place. That means doing your homework. Before you book a flight or hire a car or arrange for accommodation, pay close attention to the terms and conditions. If an airline has rules around baggage and you break them you will be penalised. If you book a non-refundable hotel room you cannot expect a refund and if you agree to an excess when hiring a car and are involved in a tip you will pay the price.

Do your research

Before spending any money on a travel-related product, spend a few minutes googling the provider. Look at the reviews on Tripadvisor and Trustpilot and if things seem negative, then consider spending your money elsewhere.

Keep a paper trail

Things will sometimes go wrong and you will need ready access to the documentation. Create a dedicated travel folder with your email provider and move all booking details and email correspondence and important documentation — including pictures of your passport and copies of your travel insurance policy — to that folder. Then if things go wrong with any aspect of your travel itinerary you will know where to look to find what you might need to make things right.

Stay calm

Travel is stressful and never more so than when things go badly pear-shaped. But losing your temper at a check-in desk or screaming down the phone at some low-paid call centre operative will not help so — if at all possible — keep your cool and breathe. It will be better for you in the long run.


Words matter

If you have a problem with an airline for example and a flight has been cancelled due to weather or a strike, you have certain rights and the airline has certain obligations such as a refund, a re-booking or a re-routing at the next available opportunity. You will most likely have to cover costs up-front and claim them back. If you subsequently contact the airline seeking compensation, your claim will be rejected. If however you seek reimbursement under EU Directive 261, you should get your money back in double quick time.

Find out who the regulators are

The Irish Aviation Authority recently took over the role of managing airline passenger rights from the Commission for Aviation Regulation. It also has oversight of the package holiday sector. When it comes to ferries, the National Transport Authority is your key contact. If you are looking for redress for things that have gone wrong within Ireland you might be able to go to the Small Claims Court or the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission while if you have a problem with a supplier in another country the European Consumer Centre can help.

Anything else?

Yes. If you have had a bad experience with a travel provider or feel like you are being given the run-around, you can always come to us and we will do what we can to help you out and highlight your tale of woe.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor