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Beach with lots of tourist on itPackage Travel

Going on a package holiday should be fun and relaxing - but if things go wrong, it can be the opposite. So take care when choosing your package holiday 


What is a package?

A package is the pre-arranged combination of at least 2 of the following components when offered for sale at an inclusive price that covers a period of more than 24 hours or includes an overnight stay

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Other tourist services e.g car hire, excursions

An example of a package holiday is one which you choose from a tour operator’s brochure, and which includes a flight and a seven-night stay in a hotel.

Your holiday is not likely to be a package holiday if you booked all the elements of your holiday separately.

Cancellation of your Package Holiday

If the tour operator cancels your package holiday, you will have several options. You can choose to:

  • Accept an alternative holiday of a similar or better standard
  • Accept an alternative holiday of a lower standard and claim back the difference in cost
  • Cancel the holiday and get your money back. 

You may also be able to claim compensation if your holiday is cancelled, for example to cover any financial loss you have suffered, or disappointment and inconvenience. However, you will not be entitled to make a claim if an insufficient number of people booked onto the package holiday. The tour operator must warn you in writing when you book the holiday, if a minimum number of people are needed for the holiday to take place. You must also be told about when you will be notified if this minimum number has not been met and the holiday has to be cancelled.

You will also be unable to claim compensation if your package holiday has to be cancelled due to unusual and unforeseeable circumstances which were beyond the control of the tour operator and which could not have been avoided.

If you cancel through no fault of the trader

If you cancel your holiday you will usually lose your deposit or pay a cancellation charge. This may be almost the full cost of the holiday. This is because you will have broken the terms of the contract you made with the holiday trader when you booked your holiday.

The contract will usually say whether a cancellation fee has to be paid. If so, the amount given will usually be binding. If the contract does not allow cancellation, you will be liable for any losses, which the holiday trader might have incurred.

Price increases 

There are special rules about when the price of a package holiday can be changed. After you have bought a package holiday, the price can only be changed if:-

  • Your contract includes a term which says how the price change will be calculated; and
  • The increase or decrease is only going to happen because of a change in the cost of the transportation, fees and taxes or changes to the exchange rate; and
  • There are at least 30 days before your departure; and
  • The increase is greater than 2% of the total cost.

If all of these conditions are not met, the price of a package holiday cannot be changed. If the conditions are met and the increase in price is 10% or more, it is likely that you will be able either to choose an alternative holiday or to cancel the holiday. This is because this would be seen as a significant change to your holiday

Changes to your package holiday

There are special rules about when changes to package holidays can be made.

A package holiday can only be changed from its description in the brochure when: -

  • A statement is included in the brochure which states that a change can be made; and
  • You are told about the change before you buy the package holiday.

If the package holiday is changed, but there was no statement in the brochure and you were not told about the change before you bought the holiday, the change can only be made if both you and the tour operator agree to it. If you do not agree to the change, your contract may have been broken, and you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

If the tour operator has to significantly changed your package holiday before you go away, for example, they have changed the departure date, then you must be told of this as soon as possible. You will then have several options. You can choose to: -

  • Accept an alternative package holiday of a similar or superior standard
  • Accept an alternative package holiday of a lower standard and claim back the difference in the cost   
  • Cancel the package holiday and get your money back.

You must tell the tour operator which option you are going to chose as soon as possible. 

How To Complain

Contact the trader as soon as possible after discovering the problem. If the problem arose while you were on holiday it will help if you can show you complained at the time. Always write to the tour operator you are complaining to, even if you previously telephoned. The letter should include details of the following: -

  • Invoice number, confirmation number, ticket number and other reference numbers;
  • Holiday dates;
  • The cost of the accommodation, transport or package holiday;
  • A clear description of the fault or problem;
  • A statement about how the problem affected you;
  • Anything said in the brochure, newspaper advertisement or other literature connected with the problem;
  • Anything that was said at the time of making the holiday arrangements or booking relevant to the problem in any way;
  • Details of the travel agent if one was used;
  • What you want, for example, your money back, or how much compensation you would like;
  • A time limit within which you expect a reply;
  • Copies of any relevant documents or photographs showing the problem, for example, the building site next to the hotel, or supporting statements from witnesses.

    Keep a copy of the letter, and originals of any relevant documents and photographs.