/ Travel & Leisure

Air your getaway gripes and put a stop to holiday hassles

Holiday hassles illustrations

Despite the grey skies and heavy rain, summer is upon us and many take the opportunity to take a well-earned break. But many of you have told us that your holidays have not been quite as hassle-free as you hoped…

That is why today we launched our Stop the Holiday Hassles campaign. We want to help you tackle those problems that may make your holiday unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

One in seven people who have been on holiday in the last two years have had a problem, equivalent to around 6.2 million people in the UK.

The most common issue was delays or cancellations to flights (30%). Also high among the holiday gripes were long waits to reclaim baggage (25%), accommodation being different to the description (24%) and unhelpful or rude staff (24%). Worryingly, two in 10 travellers (21%) said they once had a holiday that was so bad they felt like they needed another one.

Your holiday gripes

We’re grateful for the comments you’ve shared with us already, which in turn have prompted us to launch this campaign. Bill P told us:

‘I never fly now, but take the train or drive where I can, I refuse to fly simply because the treatment I receive at airports leaves me angry and frustrated.’

And Geoff P told us

‘I had a serious problem at Gatwick Airport and complained. Sadly I never got a satisfactory reply from them, it seemed to be swept under the carpet.’

David Mitchell caught our eye when he said:

‘Biggest bugbear? From arrival at the car park to taking off. Everything else is just dandy.’

But it’s not just airports that are causing issues, Wavechange shared his worrying experience of meet-and-greet parking:

‘I once hired a boat from a small company and they offered to park my car safely for the week. Quite by chance I found my car in a pub car park.’

Stop the Holiday Hassles

With six million of you experiencing an issue with your holiday over the last two years we’ve decided it’s time for action.

We want holidaymakers to be able to quickly resolve any problems that may arise by providing you with the means to take action. Through your stories we’ll also challenge companies to stop the holiday hassles.

Please share your experiences below and sign up to our campaign. We’ll be taking action to tackle shoddy holiday practices so you don’t have to suffer in future. And once we know your most common holiday hassles, we’ll provide you with useful tips and information from our Consumer Rights team to put the power back in your hands.


Towards the end of June I went on holiday for a couple of weeks. I checked my passport, which had expired several years ago. I had not obtained travel insurance. Never mind, I was going on a holiday in the UK.

I set off early on the Saturday morning and drove 250 miles, expertly guided by satnav, the printed AA route planner and road map being unnecessary but there in case I had needed them. The roads were quiet and I arrived ahead of schedule. I spent two weeks with friends, I have known for years and took a great deal of exercise. I ate lots of food, both ‘home’-made and at places on our route. The weather was amazing, with only one day with any rain, and it was warm. The return journey also went smoothly and I broke the journey by visiting a favourite place for lunch.

When I got home I felt exhausted but very relaxed. I had booked an appointment for routine tests and was told that my blood pressure was lower than last time it had been checked. Despite eating much more than normal I had either not put on weight. I never do on activity holidays.

I really must get round to planning my next holiday in the UK.

Oops. Am I supposed to be whinging about problems with airports, misfortunes with luggage going to a different destination, lost wallets, trying to make myself understood by people who don’t speak the language. Been there and done that. I want to go on holiday to enjoy every minute of it.

I am not quite clear if this holiday hassles is only for those who fly?

Avoiding airport stress are those 600,000 people who cruised from British ports in 2013*. Of course there are another 1.4m who flew to their cruise ship and therefore suffered the airport torment


I returned from my last cruise with multiple purchases including 20 plus books – noteworthy being the complete Far Side by Larson with 1200 pages and weighing 19lbs. Bringing home something interesting is not always easily possible by plane travel.

* Cruising does have problems but the embarking and disembarking is a lot less stressful than an airport.

The weight limit if you sale and return to a UK port is around 90kgs per person. Nice.

The hassles side of cruising is primarily that the guided tours can be misleadingly described. And in all honesty the vast majority of them are fine.

However stating it is 0.9km from the coach park to the entrance but not mentioning the further 2 kms required walking to get to the main attraction seems more than incompetent. Telling people they can observe various features on the way out would be hugely less compelling if they were honest and told you these were exactly the same as the ones you had to pass to come in! But then I suspect the copywriters do not care.

I will not go into too much detail as I am in mid-dispute but in some ways turning me down for compensation would mean I can unleash some inner spleen on what I consider the most shambolic guided tour I have ever been on. You know its bad when people collapse and you have to take the coach 200 metres to help them aboard.

Maybe it’s because I only holiday in the UK 99% of the time, but i have never really had any problems when I go on holiday.

The one problem I sometimes get is when I book a double room at the B&B, then turn up with my boyfriend and there is always a moment when the B&B owner is thinking “Are they together or do they want 2 beds” & it’s always funny seeing the look on the B&B owners face thinking that.

Plus to make matters worse I bring along my dog too and while the B&B owner will know this & while she is soft as anything she is a large Japanese Akita & Japanese Akita’s do get bad press even tho Akita’s are not on the Dangerous Dogs Act.

Due to this we, most of the time, stay at places we have been before and they know us We use a really nice B&B Whitby, plus another nice B&B in Lake District & like I say, 99% of the time have no problems at all.

Which: I know this comment might be classed as off-topic as it’s nothing about flying, train travel, passports or anything like that. But as it’s problems I have had I thought it gave another point of view to the subject.

Luggage allowances always frustrate me. I often fly on low-cost airlines and don’t bother putting luggage in the hold, preferring the cheaper option of just take hand luggage. I have a bag which I have measured and know perfectly well that it fits the luggage requirements. However, once, coming back from a holiday in Barcelona, I was pulled aside to put my case in the metal basket by the departure gates and was told, quite shortly, ‘it needs to slide in easily, please don’t push it in’. This is despite there being no problems with this bag flying from the UK.

Perhaps I should have made more of a fuss, but I was flying on my own back from a foreign country, and it seemed easier to cough up the £50 I was made to pay in excess baggage fees and get on the plane. I always wonder whether those little metal baskets at the departure gates really are the correct size…

roygreenwood says:
19 July 2014

I would just like to say how upset I am over the last 30 years we have always had our holidays abroad ,two years ago (the wife) decided we would not go again as the hassle was not worth the bother what I am trying to say I would still go whatever but the boss has decided ,end of story.sob sob.

I have flown numerous times, mainly on a day-return basis, and have never had any trouble (can’t blame Easyjet for bad weather). Stuttgart, Geneva and Glasgow, it all goes easily, just don’t expect to arrive at the last minute if you have bags to check in – you might find yourself behind a couple of Jumbos’ passengers. Also, don’t expect the security staff to have much of a sense of humour. Their job is a very responsible but boring one. The only gripe I have is with other passengers: those that ‘try it on’ with how much they can get on board with, sometimes causing hold-ups and not leaving space in the overhead lockers for others; those that seem to expect a Rolls Royce service on an economy airline; and, of course, those who don’t switch their electronic equipment off when asked to, thus endangering the safety of us all.

Mel Cheaprox says:
19 July 2014

I agree with Delldweller, whilst sometimes the airport/airline delays are annoying most delays are made more frustrating by other passengers not knowing the rules or deliberately trying it on, and trying to beat the system! Having said that, the airlines keep changing the rules and make it harder and harder and introduce more and more extra charges!

Layla says:
15 August 2014

I would so much appreciate a travel agency for disabled people. Somewhere where they would be able to appreciate some of our needs, or at least take them seriously and imaginatively, and know of good hotels with facilities and airlines which have a sympathetic regime which didn’t assume I was angling for an upgrade if the allocated pre-booked seat turned out to be different to that booked, and totally unsuitable.
I have all sorts of stories of nearly ruined trips,stress, uneducated staff, lack of sympathy, lack of facilities such as wheelchairs(a well known Irish cut-price carrier), tears and argument.
And some stories of helpful staff, great airlines, lovely hotels, and organised airports (not always ours unfortunately).

Mal says:
19 July 2014

When younger, we travelled for holidays on long haul flights. Our philosophy was that the journeys would be a pain, but the destination and time there made it worthwhile – a simple “is it worth it” choice.

Now older, our breaks are short haul, usually with no frills carriers. Like Delldweller in a previous post, I agree – the airlines, staff, and service are absolutely fine.

The problem is the passengers. Turning up late, bags clearly larger than allowable, huge duty free bags in addition to hand luggage, and on boarding some passengers so wrapped up in themselves they either don’t read (or can’t be bothered to follow) the instructions “seats A-P board at front, Q-Z at the rear”.

The latter leads to horrendous stress as people try to get to seats at the back of the plane from the door at the front, passing everyone with their luggage on the way, and blocking aisles.

Then when most people are comfortably seated, those last few large bags don’t fit in lockers, and people with correct sized bags are asked to put them under their seats so that the incorrect ones can be stored in lockers.

The system “rewards” bad behavior.

If someone has correct sized luggage, give them a green card at the gate, “fine” those who don’t £10 on the spot.

If someone boards at the incorrect end, send them back down the steps to the other end (after being “shamed” like this a few times, they’ll soon learn to look for the boarding instructions in future).

If locker space is insufficient when most people are seated, get the people with large duty free bags to put it under their own seats.

During the flight, everyone with a “green card” is entered into a “lucky dip”, to win a share of the fine money collected. People with oversize luggage will soon get the message when they see their cash being handed over to people who have acceptable luggage, and will think twice next time.

I feel so sorry for staff working on no frills airlines, having to deal with people who obviously have no thought for anyone but themselves.

Alfred Layton says:
19 July 2014

Eurostar check-in at Brussels always keeps you waiting outside the check-in until the previous train has left. If you arrive in reasonable time you can be kept standing for half an hour despite the waiting area being empty. We were recently kept waiting like this, then when we were allowed through the ticket check there was a brief power failure in security so we were kept standing for another half hour before passport checks. No information was given. It was not until we reached UK Border check that we were reassured that the train was being held for us. If we had been checked-in instead of being kept standing we would probably have all been through before the power failure. To speed things up UK Border waved us through, but this meant that our unchecked passports had to be checked at St Pancras with another half hour wait.

Brussels Midi has often a nightmare because of the idiocy of all the staff there. On one occasion we went to the departure board to find the platform for our Frankfurt train, all the details of the train were shown except the platform which was shown as ‘Depart autre gare’. As John Betjeman might have said ‘Happiness is Brussels in your rear view mirror’.

John Blair. says:
19 July 2014

Used the new Terminal 2 baggage claim on Tuesday 15th July. My flight was the only flight where bags were being offloaded so baggage hall not busy.
Waited 20 mins for carousel to start then after 15 mins use the carousel stopped for 20 minutes. No airport staff visible to give explanation.
No information in hall which gave name and details of baggage handling agents.
Allow 30 minutes walk from arrival gate to Border/Passport Control. Only toilet is near Passport Control.

Jim Hassett says:
19 July 2014

Flights booked on line for myself & my wife to fly to Cyprus, unfortunately 1 weeks before we were due to fly, my mother in law died, so we had to stay in U.K. for the funeral.

When we ask easy jet to rearrange our flights to another time (We live in Cyprus so any time in the year would be O.K.) we were refused! “because we had booked on line”!
We pointed out that booking on line was for easy jets benefit, not ours, made no difference, we lost both flights!
We did not ask for our money back, just for the flights to be re arranged.
We have told this story to all our friends in Cyprus, they all fly with Monarch now!!!

I do not appreciate returning to Terminal 5 at Heathrow after a long flight and finding only coffee and pastries available to eat.

Steven says:
20 July 2014

We have noticed a trend in that holiday airline companies are restricting the weight of cabin bags, to make passengers pay for hold baggage. Flying to Greece two adults and two children we have previously bought 4 appropriately sized cabin bags (1 each) and avoided having to pay for hold baggage.
Now with Thompson flights they restrict both the weight and size of cabin bags to 5kg. The self weight of the bags themselves are 2kg giving an allowance of just 3kg which amounts to a towel, cream and a few t-shirts. Other operators allowed up to 18kg! So we now have to pay for luggage in the hold at £48 two ways to 20kg. If the weight goes above 23kg then not only does the cost per kg rise dramatically but it needs to be split into two bags.
If it about weight and fuel cost why aren’t heavier passengers charged more than lighter? Wwhy cant we have a system where passenger weight is considered along with passenger baggage weight? – Bit radical I know!!!!!!!

Dalesranger says:
21 July 2014

I/we have very mixed experiences but our worst experiences have been at UK airports (Leeds and Manchester are particularly bad) and in USA (Los Angeles the worst in the world).
Leeds scams anyone using a car and has no kerbside taxi service and no train link. At Manchester we used a car parking/valet service that had let one tyre almost deflate, scratched the alloy wheels very badly and returned car with mud splashed over doors, sills etc. When I phoned to complain I was initially told I was wrong and then a torrent of expletives followed.
We have had to change trains at Manchester on 2 occasions (even though we were on the airport express), and had lengthy train delays – that have been very stressful.
Also abruptly rude border agency and arrivals staff (at LHR we observed an older man being shouted at because he did not understand how the facial photo recognition equipment worked) and in general UK airports seem to have a policy of employing staff whose idea of customer and public service is to grunt instructions and whose face would break of they cracked a smile. I can only assume they were trained by staff at Los Angeles.

Hi Dalesranger – if you had a contract with the car valet and had paid for the service, then they could have breached their contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act (http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/supply-of-goods-and-services-act-1982). I hope this helps. Did you get your money back?

Avoiding flying over war zones would be my number one concern these days; everything else is trivial.

Brian Ferry says:
25 July 2014

Lack of passenger control at departure gates drives me mad, everyone mills around trying to hear what the latest boarding edict is. This is usually shouted out, it seems, by the smallest supervisor with the smallest voice. Heathrow terminal 5 have it 50% right with an electronic info board over the gate.
In my opinion access to the gate should only be from the “collecting pens” which should have an electronic board clearly showing the seating to be filled first/next. This I’m sure, properly controlled, would speed boarding with less hassle for passengers and be helpful to those who don’t speak English (and anywhere in the world where passengers don’t understand the local language).

Much has been written about airline delays but the issue of baggage lost or not delivered is just as important. My family flew with Austrian Airways and the baggage failed to arrive for two days. I will not bore you with all the fine detail but It seems that nearly 100 cases were left behind as there were insufficient cages on the plane. No information from the airline, before we took off or on landing, as to when our bags could be expected. So no ski clothes. After our return the airline offered to pay half of our proven expenses, I am a pensioner and my grandaughter is ten, growing like a giraffe, so an extra set of even half price goretex clothes – no use to either of us. We arrived at weekend and normal shops were closed, We lost holiday time before we could get ourselves properly equiped, Austrian Airlines refused to recognise the lost holiday time as there was no invoice. Travel insurance does not cover the cost of a set of insulated waterproofs and footwear.
Is this an issue for which.