Holidaymakers are an easy target for unscrupulous businesses, says Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith. It’s high time the travel industry cleaned up its act.
Do the sun hats that we wear on holiday bear a motto saying ‘fleece me quick’ that’s visible only to those who work in the industry? It certainly seems that way judging by how some firms behave.
We holidaymakers are at the mercy of the travel industry from the moment we lock eyes with airport check-in staff – will they take against us and redirect the bags to Gibraltar? – to the moment we pay 10 euros for a terrible coffee as we await the return flight. And if your flight is delayed, it can be difficult to get compensation.
Yes, some travel companies are exemplary. But not enough of them. Dodgy service, sneaky fees and hassle are all too common on holiday, according to Which? members. So here is what I’m asking of the industry.
My five pleas to the travel industry
Stop the economy seat squeeze: Economy passengers are being treated like cattle. Legroom has been cut by several inches, while seat width and the number of toilets have been cut to make room for business-class seats. Surely we’ve reached the limit?
Why do we have to pay extra to sit together on a plane? This penalises parents of young children who feel obliged to pay up to ensure they sit together.
End the car hire excess rip-off: No one should have to pay the absurd premiums car-hire firms charge to cover excess. You can get this at a fraction of the cost before you go.
Say upfront what’s free and what isn’t: You haven’t even unpacked before you find it’s an extra £15 for wi-fi, £20 for spa access, £25 for parking… Airlines can’t get away with this any more, so why is the rest of the industry still doing it?
Protect holiday letting money: Many self-catering property owners only accept bank transfers, which aren’t protected (unlike credit card payments). With holiday booking fraud increasing, there has to be a better system. Solving all this would make a holiday seem, well, more like a holiday.
Have you experienced tactics such as these? Did you complain or did you feel you had no option but to pay up?