The recent collapse of a British package holiday company has left thousands of people stranded abroad. Our article examines what you can do if you find yourself in the same position
On July 16 the British package holiday company Goldtrail ceased trading, which left up to 16,000 British holidaymakers stranded abroad.
Our guide to your travel rights explains what you can do if your travel company runs into trouble when you're on holiday or before you leave. We'll also explain what to do if your flight is cancelled or if a strike is announced.
The way you book can make a difference - your rights may change depending on whether you booked in person with a travel agent, online or on the phone. To find out how, read on.
You can book the parts of your holiday separately (flights, hotel etc). However, booking a package holiday gives you rights against the tour operator, which is obliged to continue your package tour where possible and get you home, both at no extra cost.
The law on flights depends on your location. If you are leaving from a European Union (EU) airport or with an EU airline and your flight is cancelled the law requires you get a refund, a later flight or alternative transport home. If you accept a refund, you are not entitled to anything else, but if you take a later flight or transport you should get ‘reasonable costs’ for meals and overnight stays.
If the airline won’t give you money or vouchers up-front, hold your receipts (and keep your expenses reasonable), then contact the airline afterwards, enclosing copies and a list of what you spent. If you choose to make your own way home, the airline does not have to cover your costs but it’s worth asking.
For non-EU countries or airlines, refunds or later flights will usually be offered but airlines may not be under any obligation. This will depend on local laws so check online before you leave the UK.
Earlier this year, an enormous amount of disruption to holidays was caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The volcano may not erupt again soon but the same provisions will apply to other natural disasters elsewhere in the world.
If you have run out of money or need medication the local British embassy can help you find a hospital, pharmacy or money transfer service, and it can also advise about your visa if you overstay because of a travel problem. To find the nearest embassy, go to the travel section of the Foreign Office website or dial the local international dialling code and then 44 20 7008 1500.
Check your policy
The Association of British Insurers says if you had to cancel travel plans because of the volcano, most insurers would have refunded the premium. This may not be the case for future events, so check with the insurer. All insurers will extend single-trip policies if you get stranded abroad, but insurance only covers events that take place after you take out the policy. So a policy taken out now may not cover you for the Icelandic volcano. If you decide not to travel without good reason such as the death or serious illness of a relative you will not usually be covered by your insurance policy.
The European Health Insurance Card is vital if you are travelling in Europe. It will give you free hospital treatment, or at the same price as the rate for locals. Without it you may be charged extra for care in European hospitals. You should still have travel insurance, as it will not cover all costs. If you already have one, make sure it has not expired. Apply online at www.ehic.org.uk.
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