/ Travel & Leisure
Elderly man's face

Ever been told you’re too old to travel? There can be few things more annoying and frustrating than being told you’re too old to do something you want to do. Being told you can’t go on holiday takes the biscuit.

Three in 10 Which? members aged 65 or older told us they’d been excluded from a holiday or travel activity because of their age.

They told us about being stopped from taking a walking holiday, being barred from hiring a car, being blocked from taking an activity holiday, and not being allowed to sit in exit-row seats on flights.

Positive changes for older people

In some good news, our ‘Too old to travel?’ investigation has led to three positive changes being made by the travel industry.

Cultural tours provider Martin Randall Travel has dropped its ban on over 80s joining its activity tours after we again highlighted how members felt that it was unfair.

Car hire firm Sixt has agreed to scrap its block on hiring cars to drivers in the UK who’re aged over 75. Prior to our investigation, 76-year-olds could hire a Sixt car in Europe and America, but not the UK.

And Europcar is reviewing its processes to make age restrictions on its site clearer after a Which? member was stopped from picking up a car he’d booked and paid for.

Age and the law

Frustrating as it may be, if a holiday company treats you differently because of your age, it won’t necessarily be breaking the law. In fact, the law allows companies to discriminate based on age in certain circumstances. This includes companies promoting holidays to over 65s or under 30s.

But that doesn’t make it any less infuriating if you’re the one barred from doing something you want to do simply because of your age. But there are ways to fight back.

What to do if you’re told you’re too old

Car hire: Check the terms and conditions before you book. If there are no age restrictions but you’re stopped from picking up the car because of your age, the hire company may well be in breach of contract. You can claim back any losses you have as a result.

Extra legroom on flights: If you’re told you can’t buy exit row seats because you’re too old, don’t accept it. Point out that according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules, you are allowed to sit in those rows as long as you are fit and able.

Travel insurance: Insurers can use age as a basis for setting premiums, and you may have to pay more, particularly for sports cover. However, there are insurers who will provide good-value policies.

Travel insurance and bank accounts: Consider switching to another account if your travel insurance is removed or you’re asked to pay more for it. The Clydesdale Bank Signature Current Account (£13.50 per month), Nationwide FlexAccount (free) and Flex plus (£10 per month), and the Yorkshire Bank Signature Current Account (£13.50 per month), all allow you to keep your travel insurance until your 75th birthday. Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and TSB Platinum account (£17 per month) offer travel insurance up to the age of 80.

Walking holidays: Shop around for a travel company that will accept you on its tours. Explore asks travellers aged 80 and over for proof of insurance and a doctor’s note. Ramblers Worldwide Holidays suggests that over 75s have a doctor confirm fitness before travelling and it may ask for proof of this. Exodus said it was rare to exclude anyone for any reason.

Have you ever felt like you’ve been discriminated against in travel because of your age? Did you try to fight it?

Sue H says:
4 September 2014

Please don’t have a campaign that frightens airlines into letting just anybody sit in the exit rows in case of appearing ageist. Regardless of who books those rows online, if the person turns up and is not fit and able they should be moved to another seat. I have already travelled on a flight where an old lady who had to use a stick was in the exit row – scary and the flight attendants did nothing about it.


I bank with HSBC as a “Premier” customer and until a few years ago there was no age limit on the travel insurance that was available, albeit as a purchase, with annual cover for a charge of less than £100. It even covered me as a sailplane pilot flying in Europe.
Then the policy was “improved”. Age limit of 70 and no cover for activities; still it was included free with the account. Worse still there was no offer to replace the cover, even at a premium, so we were just abandoned. All my protests were in vain, and I continued these up to quite a high level in the bank.
I still hold a full European medical certificate for light aircraft and gliders, so perhaps the risks are not fully assessed, but based on ignorance and prejudice.


Why has this taken so long?
A bank account should not discriminate re age. We have to advise of any illnesses otherwise we are unable to make any claim on this ailment.
The majority of YBF incidents are not the elderly.
So please see this through

raymond bennett says:
10 September 2014

I have a few health problems but all are in a controlled state as stated by my doctor, but the insurance providers don’t want to acknowledge this and still charge excessive premiums for any holiday I wish to take.This has prevented me from going abroad this year.

Micjaq says:
11 September 2014

What really annoys me is that most insurance companies put restrictions on the length of trips based on age rather than state of health. Suddenly a 65year old is apparently not able to go away for more than 30 days, for example.


I have now discovered that there is none major carhire company which does not have an age restriction. The company is Avis. All the others will not deal with drivers over the age of 70.


Useful info about Avis. I think Hertz might do too. But neither appears to operate in North Uist, Outer Hebrides. The upper limit is 75


We’ve just returned from the Outer Hebrides choosing to get there by public transport. My husband is over 75 (78) – too old to hire a car there. Lucky that I am under 75. He has to renew his licence every year so if the DVLA think he’s OK to drive, why don’t the hire companies? At 80 we’ll have to insure our travel for each journey. I think that is fair because fitness can change rapidly the older you get. However, the premium should reflect the short period.

Older people are far fitter and more active than previously. Is this being reflected in the figures that actuarialists are using?


I have just returned from a short visit to Shetland, travelling alone. I am over 80 years. I recently discovered hat there is one large car hire company – Avis – who do not have any maximum age restriction. It did not appear that there was any extra fee levied because of my age. There were no problems whatsoever at the Airport on arrival or at departure. All I had to do is produce my fully valid UK driving licence and cr