Cancelling a package holiday
If you booked at least 2 different parts of your holiday with the same company at the same time, it’s probably a package holiday. If you booked with different companies, it’s a good idea to check if your holiday is a package - it might be classed as a different type of holiday. Check what type of holiday you’ve booked.
Your rights to cancel a package holiday (or a particular part of a holiday like a flight or a hotel booking) usually depend on the terms and conditions of your booking, and your reason for wanting to cancel.
You might be entitled to cancel the holiday without a fee if:
the holiday company makes significant changes to your holiday
it puts certain prices up after you book
you can’t get to your destination because of exceptional circumstances - like war or a natural disaster
The company should pay any money you’re owed within 14 days of cancellation.
If you change your mind about going, you can cancel but you’ll probably have to pay a fee.
You might be covered for cancelling a trip if you have travel insurance - check your policy or contact the insurance company if you’re not sure.
If you’ve changed your mind or can’t go
You can cancel any time before the holiday starts but you’ll probably have to pay a cancellation fee. The fees should be in the terms and conditions. They’re likely to be higher if it’s close to the departure date. Contact the company if you can’t find your terms and conditions.
The company should only charge you the amount they’ll lose - they should try to sell the holiday to someone else. If you think they’re charging too much, ask how they worked out the cancellation fee.
Transferring your holiday
Think about whether you can find someone to take the holiday, as this might be cheaper than cancelling it. The person you’re transferring to must meet any conditions - like age restrictions.
Write a letter or email to the company telling them you want to transfer the holiday and giving the other person’s details. You’ll need to do this at least 7 days before the holiday starts.
The company must tell you how much it will cost to transfer. That cost must be reasonable and can’t be more than it costs them to make the transfer. They must provide proof of the cost.
You or the person you’re transferring to will have to pay the cost of transferring the booking. If the person you’re transferring to doesn’t pay, you’ll have to.
If a holiday company changes the holiday after you've booked
If the company has made a ‘significant change’ to your package holiday, you don’t have to accept it. You have the right to either:
cancel the holiday without charge and get your money back
accept an alternative holiday, if there is one
There’s no legal definition of a ‘significant change’ but it includes:
a big change to the main features of your holiday - for example if the company says you’re going to a different resort to the one you booked
the company not meeting special requests you’ve agreed with them and which are in your contract - like if you asked for a ground floor room because of a wheelchair
You should also check if you can get compensation.
The company must let you know about the change in writing. They must:
tell you what the change is
tell you if the price is reduced because the change means lower quality or cost
give you a reasonable time to let them know if you want to cancel
tell you if they’re offering a different package instead and how much it costs
warn you that if you don’t reply after they’ve contacted you twice, they can cancel your holiday
You must let them know by their deadline if you accept the change or want to cancel the booking. You won’t have to pay a fee to cancel. If you don’t reply in time, the company has to notify you once more. If you still don’t reply, they can cancel your holiday.
If the price of your holiday increases after you book
Check the terms and conditions for the holiday to see if they allow the company to increase the price. Look for something like ‘price variation’ - this means the price can change. They can’t increase it if the terms and conditions don’t allow it.
Even if the terms and conditions allow price increases, the company can only increase the price because of:
fuel price rises which mean transport costs have gone up
changes to taxes or fees by third parties - like tourist taxes
exchange rates which affect the price of the holiday
The company has to let you know in writing about their plans to increase the price. They also have to give you a reasonable time to tell them if you accept it or want to cancel. If they’re offering another package instead, they must tell you how much it costs. If you don’t reply by their deadline, they might cancel the trip.
The company must tell you about the price rise at least 20 days before the package starts and explain why they put the price up. You have the right to cancel the holiday without paying a fee if the increase is more than 8% - you’ll get back any money you’ve already paid.
If the terms and conditions say the company can increase the price, the company also has to offer you a refund if the cost of your holiday goes down because of changes to fuel prices, taxes or exchange rates.
If there are exceptional circumstances before you leave
You can cancel your holiday without having to pay a fee. You’ll get a full refund but won’t be entitled to any compensation.
The exceptional circumstances must be at or near your destination. They must have a significant effect on your holiday or on getting there - like if planes can’t fly there because of volcanic ash.
Examples of exceptional circumstances include:
a serious disease
natural disasters - like floods, earthquakes or weather conditions
Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form.
If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact Consumerline.
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Page last reviewed on 04 December 2018