Guide to Ruined Holiday Complaints and Compensation

Holidays That Went Wrong

Every year our specialist Travel Law Team helps hundreds of people claim compensation for ruined package holidays. This could be due to illness or an accident at a hotel abroad, on a cruise ship, or on an airplane.

What went Wrong postcode depicting Compensation for Holiday ruined

We also receive enquiries about making complaints to tour operators.

In this guide we're going to explain what you can do to salvage a ruined holiday, including advice on making a complaint and what your rights are for claiming compensation.

Advice on Complaining While on Holiday

Whether you're making a claim for personal injury, illness, or making a general complaint about the standard of your resort; it's important to make your tour operator representative aware of the problems that you're experiencing while you're still abroad. Doing so will give them the opportunity to rectify your problem, or if necessary provide you with additional care.

If you're not satisfied with the resolution that has been provided or if your issue has not been satisfactorily resolved, it's important to lodge a formal complaint upon returning home.

Advice on Complaining when you get Home

Once you've returned from your package holiday there are two courses of action available to you:

  1. If your complaint is due to an illness or accident that resulted in a personal injury; it's advisable to seek legal advice before contacting your tour operator, as you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
  2. If you have a general complaint, such as the staff at your hotel not being helpful or if you weren't impressed with the resort, then contact your tour operator directly with your complaint.

Your Rights if your Holiday was Ruined

In the event that your trip abroad is ruined there are laws that provide you with protection on a package holiday. The Package Travel Regulations 1992 place responsibility on tour operators to ensure that every aspect of your package holiday is safe and that the appropriate level of care is provided to you and your family or holiday party.

Your tour operator is not only responsible for your break abroad is as described, but also for the acts and omissions of everything that is included as part of the single price that you pay for your package holiday. This means that you can claim compensation for any of the following:

What to do if you Became Ill Abroad

In the event that your resort did not practice best hygiene or food wasn't prepared to a satisfactory standard and you became ill, you may be able to make a claim for compensation, particularly if you have suffered from food poisoning or any of the following:

  • Infections such as Salmonella, Campylobacter or E-coli
  • Resort or Hotel Sickness Outbreaks
  • Lost earnings as a result of your illness
  • Loss of holiday enjoyment due to illness
  • Payment for medical treatments
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Whether claiming for illness as an individual or if you're processing a claim as a group we'll do everything possible to win an award for your illness compensation.

What to do if you have an Accident Abroad

With health and safety standards abroad varying dramatically from the stringent standards that we're used to in the UK, some areas of your resort may not be as safe as you would hope and can cause an accident that results in a holiday injury.

Our travel law specialists handle claims for holiday injuries that occurred in the following common areas:

Our worldwide network of colleagues allows us to investigate local health and safety requirements and secure the best evidence necessary to win your holiday accident claim.

Making a 'No Win No Fee' Holiday Claim for Compensation

Making a claim for compensation with our specialist travel law team at Simpson Millar is straight forwards and only takes a phone call and a few minutes for us advise you whether you have grounds to claim compensation for your holiday. We can pursue any claim on a 'no win no fee' basis, providing you with a number of benefits:

  • You won't have to pay anything up front
  • We only take payment once we win your compensation
  • If we don't win, you don't pay us

Making a Complaint to your Tour Operator

While it's important to receive legal advice before complaining about an illness or personal injury that you've suffered, in the instances where you might have found that a member of your hotel staff were rude or dismissive, or if your holiday wasn't quite the dream that you had hoped it would be, it's often best to complain directly to your tour operator.

When complaining in writing there are a few things that can help your complaint reach a favourable outcome:

  • Be Clear and Concise – Bullet points are a helpful way to make your argument easy for your tour operator to understand.
  • Stick to the facts – You may exaggerate certain facts and use emotive language to express your dissatisfaction, but a tour operator will likely be far more responsive if you're calm and clearly state what went happened and how it affected you.
  • Use Evidence – When writing to your tour operator include receipts of out-of-pocket expenses, any pictures, videos and letters/emails from relevant parties to strengthen your complaint.
  • Have Realistic Expectations – Having realistic expectations of what your tour operator will do to resolve your complaint will show that you're an amicable individual who just wants a swift result.

Complaining to Specific Tour Operators

See the following guides tailored on complaining to the following tour operators:

Advice on Lost, Delayed and Damaged Baggage

Many of us have experienced a moment of desperation in a foreign airport when our bags haven't appeared on a carousel. More often than not this anxiety is unwarranted, but in instances where your luggage has gone on its own holiday, there are a few things that you can do.

If you've lost your baggage some airlines will provide you with the following, (though you should be aware that airlines may try to pay as little compensation as they can):

  • Money for replacing essential such as toiletries and clothing while on holiday
  • Compensation for the cost of your lost luggage after you return home

In the event your luggage eventually makes it to your destination but not at the same time that you did, you can usually claim for the following:

  • Transportation to collect your delayed luggage
  • The cost of sending your luggage to you

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau [title="Citizens Advice Bureau advice on Airline Compensation for Lost or Delayed Luggage" rel="external" target="_blank"] it's vital to inform your airline as soon as possible if your baggage is missing. Some airlines have stringent deadlines for making a lost baggage claim, and while it can be tempting to relax after a long flight, you don't want to wait until you're on the wrong side of the following limitations:

  • 7 days for damaged luggage
  • 7 days for missing possessions
  • 21 days for delayed luggage
  • 21 days for lost luggage

Complaining About Bad Customer Service

When we pay to go out we expect a certain level of service; after all, that's partially what we're paying for. Unfortunately there are instances where the members of staff at your hotel, resort, or restaurant may not have been as friendly or polite as you had hoped, or your food may not have been of a decent standard.

While not appropriate for every scenario, in most situations we recommend following these simple steps:

  1. Address the issue directly – Be sure to do your best to be calm and polite and explain to the person who has upset or offended you what they've done wrong. Hopefully you'll receive an apology and the standard of service you were expecting.
  2. Speak to their manager – If the first step fails it's worth asking to speak to their manager, again calmly explain why you're displeased.
  3. Offer a resolution – If you're still not getting anywhere suggest a reasonable resolution to your problem, for instance if your food was inedible you might want to suggest that you shouldn't pay for your meal (provided that you haven't eaten it all).
  4. Inform your tour operator rep – Your tour operator representative should be there to make sure that you have a great holiday, so if you have a problem that's not been resolved, let them know.
  5. Make a formal complaint and vote with your feet – When you return to the UK make your tour operator aware of the problems that you've been experiencing and advise them that you won't be using their services again unless you're satisfied with a resolution. At the very least your tour operator will hopefully address the issue and may provide you with some compensation.

Please Note – Upon accepting compensation from your tour operator it will be unlikely that you'll be able to receive any further compensation, so if your claim is for an illness or injury, be sure to receive legal advice first.

Our Team Help with Illnesses and Injuries from around the World

Our dedicated team has claimed compensation for holidays ruined by illness and accidents in many foreign countries, including the following destinations:



Central America


Eastern Europe

Western Europe

We're Here to Help

We're here to provide you with advice on making a 'no win no fee' claim for holiday illness and injury compensation, and we're happy to help you with any enquiry you may.

It costs nothing and only takes a few minutes to find out if you have a claim, and we can provide you with no-obligation advice on the best course of action, so get in touch by completing our enquiry form and we'll get back to you. Alternatively, you can call us today on 0808 145 1353.

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Nick Harris - Head of International Travel Law - Manchester

Nick Harris
Head of Holiday Travel Claims (Consumer)

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