AA Legal Documents
Law guide

How to deal with your holiday problem


In most cases, the way to resolve your holiday problem when things go wrong will be to ask the trader for financial compensation. If you have not yet taken the holiday, you may be able to cancel the holiday and ask for a full refund.

Who can complain?

If the holiday was a package holiday, anyone who went on the holiday can make a complaint - it does not have to be the person who made the booking.

If your holiday was not a package holiday, usually only the person who booked the holiday can complain. If you did not book the holiday yourself, you should ask the person who made the booking to make the complaint.

Who to complain to

You should complain to:

  • the tour operator if the holiday was a package holiday
  • the provider of the accommodation or transport if it was not a package holiday
  • your travel agent, if your complaint is about additional services which they arranged for you
You should also copy details of your complaint to the travel agent (if you used one) or the Advertising Standards Authority if the complaint is about an advert (see 'Consumer bodies for holiday complaints' for more information).

If you paid by credit card and the holiday cost more than £100, you can also make a claim against the credit card company, so you should copy your complaint to them.

See the 'Paying for your holiday: cash or credit?' section for more information.

How to complain

Complain 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 holiday trader 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 which is 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.

For more information about how to make a complaint about a package holiday problem, see our 'Problems with package holidays' section.

Further action

If you are unsuccessful in resolving your holiday problem after complaining to the trader, you may wish to consider using an arbitration or mediation scheme, such as those operated by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) or the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO). This type of scheme is called an alternative dispute resolution scheme – see our 'Making a claim (England and Wales)' section. Your only other option is to consider taking court action.

For more information about taking court action, see our 'Making a claim (England and Wales)' section.

For more information about ABTA and AITO, see our 'Consumer bodies for holiday complaints' section.