/ Travel & Leisure

Holiday Hassles – this isn’t what it looked like in the brochure!

Holiday hassles illustrations

We recently launched our campaign to stop holiday hassles. Through your comments we’ve already collected more than 3,000 stories ranging from a holiday hindrance to holiday hell…

Through your comments here on Which? Convo, and those collected via our Stop the Holiday Hassles campaign, we’re using your feedback to uncover and tackle shoddy practice in the holiday industry.

For Gerri the prospect of travelling abroad is just too much like hard work:

‘I have no desire to travel abroad as I resent the time and hassle with the whole procedure. I stay in UK for my holidays now.’

And it’s a sentiment Wavechange echoed too:

‘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.’

It’s great to see the good old ‘Staycation’ playing a part in your holiday plans. But whether you holiday abroad or in the UK, these first few weeks of campaigning have highlighted  that your accommodation should be as described and travel companies should deliver what they promise.

Accommodation should be as described

Mike told us he was fed up with what he believed were ‘brochures full of untruths and misrepresentations’.

And Christine had first-hand experience of this when travelling to India with her boyfriend:

‘The picture of the hotel looked gorgeous in the catalogue but when we got there we found that the pool was never cleaned – it had green slime all around it.’

Hints and tips: Your holiday supplier has to supply the accommodation promised so if you were told it offered a heated pool and air-conditioning, for example, you’re entitled to get these. And if you’ve special requirements, don’t rely on the ‘special request’ section on your booking form as the company’s terms and conditions may say these requests won’t be guaranteed.

Travel Companies should deliver what they promise

Stephen would have been happy to just get the hotel he’d booked for:

‘Overbooked hotel and moved to alternative hotel with inferior facilities. Rubbish accommodation, the surrounding area was a building site and the apartment was filthy, very poor.’

Hints and tips: Dealing with the issue of overbooking varies according to how you booked your holiday. If your holiday contract is governed by the laws of England and Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland, then you can claim for breach of contract. And if you have to go to a different hotel as a result, then you can claim reasonable expenses from the accommodation provider as damages for the breach of contract.

Have you shared your experiences of holiday hassles with us or used our tips and advice to make a claim? We want to help take the hassles out of your holidays.


Why haven’t my wife and I suffered from “holiday hassles”? I’m 75 and she’s 74, we’ve been on holiday almost every year for the past 40 years, at least half our trips have been abroad, and in some years we’ve been away more than once. For nearly 20 years we took our daughter with us, and in recent years we’ve gone on holiday with her, our son-in-law and our grandchildren.

Occasionally some things haven’t gone entirely smoothly, but we’ve sorted them out, and anyway, life isn’t entirely smooth and Which isn’t able to change that. We survived the hotel in Paris where the bed tipped up when you sat on the end, the Greek island where a motor scooter plus trailer took us and our luggage to a house with the right name for our accommodation but the person inside said it was a private residence, and the minibus in Malta whose driver received a phone call telling him we shouldn’t be on it, so he took us back to the airport and left us there.

Luckily we haven’t experienced an airport strike or the hotel we were going to being full, and in such circumstances things could become pretty stressful. Does Which really believe it will be able to prevent such things happening in the future?

A better approach to life is to recognise that problems may occur, rather than gripe about the size of the bottles of water on sale in airport departure lounges (see Which for August).

Peter Priestley says:
27 September 2014

How can a Which Recommended Provider holiday company state on their online reservation forms that the carrier on their holidays will be British Airways, but after payment of the booking the airline used is a budget airline. Complaints have been made to the company involved, but they are still stating on their website that the carrier is British Airways.

I absolutely agree – even if they only occasionally use a budget airline they shouldn’t give the impression that their clients will always travel on BA, and once the issue is drawn to their attention they should amend their website accordingly.

I think there are two main reasons for this sort of situation. One is that organisations, like individuals, don’t like to admit they are wrong. The other is that the people who have the skills to operate the website tend to see their role as something specialised and apart from the rest of the organisation. Their job is to make the website work but they don’t feel they need to ensure it is accurate or to correct it if someone points out that it isn’t.

And the problem is not confined to commercial companies. On the Which website you can find a car of which some versions are listed as not having such features as a speedometer or fuel gauge. I pointed this out in a letter in August 2012, but I’ve just checked and the mistakes are still showing.