The minimalist guide to complaining about your holiday

Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992

(For holidays booked prior to 01 July 2018) If you booked after this date please see The new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 below.

A package holiday is defined by law as having at least two of these three components, all as part of a ‘package’ that you pay an inclusive price for: transport (such as flights, transfers etc.) accommodation and/or another tourist service which makes up a significant proportion of the package. It also has to last for more than 24 hours, or at the very least include overnight accommodation as part of the trip. As an example, a day-trip to a tourist attraction in the UK which includes entry and travel to the attraction is not covered. Holidays are Atol protected if the flight and either the hotel or car hire are booked within one day of each another.

The organiser (tour operator) is liable for the failures of hoteliers, suppliers and services within the contract. if the holiday is cancelled, the consumer is entitled to a substitute package of equivalent or superior quality (if the other party to the contract is able to offer such a substitute) or to take a substitute package of lower quality and recover the difference in the price or to have a full refund.


The organiser must not provide mis-leading information and provide details about changes as soon as possible. The consumer is entitled to redress for a variety of things dependent on what regulation has broken and when.

Loss of value, the difference between the cost paid for the holiday and the one received.
Out-of-pocket expenses incurred reasonable costs as a result of the breach of contract
Loss of enjoyment, compensation for the disappointment and distress caused by things going wrong.
Personal injury, compensation for any personal injury incurred abroad (specialist legal advice is thoroughly recommended here).

Regulations 12 and 13 refer to alterations in the package holiday or to departure times or location and are probably the most used. I quoted them here when I got Adam and Mel most of their money back.

Full details of the Act here.

ABTA and ATOL. Members of the former follow a code of conduct, so break that and you can report them to ABTA. The ATOL scheme of financial protection covers flight-based holidays. If you buy a land- or sea-based holiday such as coach, rail or cruise holiday from an ABTA member your monies will be protected by the ABTA scheme of financial protection, so if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and transport home if you are abroad

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers’ Licence. It is a government-run financial protection scheme operated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). All monies you pay for package holidays involving flights and holidays including a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, must be protected under an ATOL licence.  You will receive an ATOL Certificate at the time you make your payment, and you will need to keep the certificate safe.

ATOL cover means that if your travel company fails and your holiday can no longer go ahead you will be entitled to a refund if you are yet to travel and hotel costs and flights home if you are abroad. Flights booked directly with airlines are not protected under the ATOL scheme. ATOL is a financial protection scheme, it does not provide other assistance if there are other problems with your holiday.

Remember, if you are unhappy with your accommodation you should complain about it to your representative as soon as possible as the company should be given a chance to put matters right. You may still be entitled to redress of course. If however you do not complain at the time you will be asked if it was really that bad as you didn’t ask to be moved.

The new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018

These replaced and considerably modified the former 1992. The new regulations came into force on 01 July 2018. Holidays taken prior to this will be covered by the previous regulations. More details here.

If you don’t get satisfaction from customer services when you complain contact the CEO, you can find details of all the CEOs at

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"


For more tips and templates about complaining about aspects of flights and holidays see How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!




For lots more help, advice, consumer laws and template letters  GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!


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By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

3 replies on “The minimalist guide to complaining about your holiday”

Am currently starting the process of complaining to travel company. This is a quick review of the first impressions when we boarded and of general standards.
Presidential Nile Cruises. Re: M/S Nile Admiral. Don’t believe the photos on their website!!

“Holiday was run by Titan travel who must surely have to review their standards if they think this boat is of an acceptable quality. They (PNC) have the cheek to display 5 stars on the entrance doors of the boat!

The “Standard of Excellence ” certificate for food quality and hygiene they proudly display is dated 2006. The statement on the PNC website of ” equipped with the latest Fire and Safety systems and have been officially approved by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).” must mean that the ABS accepts lifebelts that are damaged showing the foam inside, no safety drills are needed, diesel fumes in the restaurant and cabins is acceptable and passenger gangplanks supported by blocks of wood is the way to passenger safety.

To be honest, we should have realised what was going to happen when we were sat in the filthy, rundown coach on the way to the mooring as we passed all the posh berths on the Luxor promenade area, through the run down areas, past the nice riverside gated moorings until we turned into an unkempt allotment, past a ramshackle shed and a cheap wooden “PNC” sign to stop in a dustbowl with a big patch of mud in the middle where they had to put out the small grassfire.

This mooring, by the way, had 3 other decommissioned PNC boats sat there looking like orphans of the Marie Celeste which had blatantly been cannibilised to bring the Admiral up (or is that down?) to their acceptable standard.

The realisation dawned when we were then ushered up a clanking, creaking gangplank covered in threadbare green nylon astroturf supported by two pieces of 4″x2″ to enter what can only be described as a 1970’s low rent Blackpool guesthouse, complete with dark wood and stained red carpet.

The cabins displayed on the PNC website bear no relation to the reality even to the point that there are no flatscreen televisions on the wall, just an small old dirty crt tv perched on top of the small fridge, sorry, minibar.

Lights are hanging out of the ceiling, there are strange brown smears and splashes on the peeling wallpaper, the bathroom door needs to be held open with the fire extinguisher and you could drive a bus between the grouting and the wall. I felt a bit guilty wiping away the cobweb hanging from the air conditioning unit, but we were hot and didn’t want flying frozen spider attacks to contend with.

By the way, this was room 407, A SUITE !! Best on the boat apparently.

The food consists of constantly recycled salad which gets wetter and greyer every day and a fixed menu in the evening. So much for a-la-carte!

Breakfast consists of fruit squash or tea or coffee, sliced hotdog sausages, small (undercooked) fried potatoes and eggs. Or you can have the fruit that wasn’t eaten the previous day, OR….. you could have one of the yoghurts that remained. (We started with 20 and as the week went on the number went down because they weren’t replacing them.) Oh yeah, there was toast as well.

Guess what? My wife went down with food poisoning after the first meal in the restaurant. They blamed the sun saying she wasn’t used to it. We lived in Spain for 23 years.

I am currently in the midst of starting my official complaint to Titan which will be escalated to ABTA, Trading Standards, MI-5, NASA and whoever else is needed to put this PNC 5* Cruise joke of a company in the bin, as that is all their boats are worth.

DO NOT SAIL WITH Presidential Nile Cruises. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.”

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