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?