What goes up must come down – that’s one of the basic laws of physics and it should apply to everything on Earth. But does it apply to the fuel and currency surcharges that travel companies pass on to holidaymakers?
When fuel prices go up we hear a lot from tour operators and airlines about how they can’t absorb the increase to their operating costs and need to pass it on to their customers (even if these customers have already paid for their holiday).
But when fuel prices go down, or the pound gets stronger against foreign currencies, how often do travellers get some of their money refunded?
This week two tour operators, Exodus and SkiBound, have been criticised for increasing the price customers have to pay for the holidays they had already bought.
Exodus and SkiBound, both subsidiaries of Britain’s biggest travel company Tui, are two of several companies listed on the travel association ABTA’s website for imposing such surcharges.
Adventure company Exodus has asked customers booked on a £5,500 trip to New Zealand for an extra £200 because of currency fluctuations. And SkiBound put its surcharge – £13 for every single child on a school trip – down to exchange rates and the rising cost of aviation fuel.
Other ABTA members imposing retrospective surcharges because of fuel and currency changes include Ramblers Holidays and specialist Latin America operator Peregrine Tours.
Retrospective holiday discounts?
Travel companies are legally allowed to increase prices after customers have paid, but within certain restrictions. They must highlight that surcharges could apply in their booking conditions, absorb 2% of the increase themselves, offer a full refund if the surcharge is more than 10%, and not impose a surcharge less than 30 days before departure.
Exodus also pointed out this week that price fluctuations could work both ways, with any savings made being passed on to their customers.
But has anyone ever been given money off their holiday because the cost of fuel went down, or the pound started to do well? I’d love to know…