Help at hand for UK travellers

Some 6,500 people had to interrupt their holidays in July alone to seek out help with travel problems, figures show.

Travellers faced with problems are urged to seek advice
Travellers faced with problems are urged to seek advice

Citizens Advice compiled the number from those checking its online holiday advice pages to seek advice on problems such as lost luggage, delayed flights or stolen belongings.

One in four of the record 28,000 people turning to the online guide last month were still abroad when they logged in.

People also looked for help when hotels fell short of what was promised in the brochure or they were left struggling to get money from their insurer after falling ill on holiday or after they had been a victim of crime.

Holidaymakers in 172 countries turned to the guide last month, and were most likely to have been in the US, followed by Spain and Ireland.

One woman approached the service after she was handed a 29,000 euro bill when she was rushed to hospital for emergency care while on a family holiday in Spain.

Her insurer refused to pay out as it said she had not disclosed an ongoing medical condition, even though she had never been diagnosed with any condition.

Another family sought help after their luggage containing £3,000 of items was lost on a flight to the US.

The airline failed to respond to any of their applications for compensation and they were eventually offered £1,500 by their insurer, leaving them significantly out of pocket.

The advisory service said it had also seen an 18% increase in the number of people looking for help in bureaux with passport problems, while analysis had shown that it had helped with problems on holiday worth £14 million in the past year.

Citizens Advice said it helped more than 200,000 people online with holiday problems in the year to July.

The charity's chief executive, Gillian Guy, said: "Summer holidays should be a time to unwind, but last month we saw the highest number of people ever turn to our online advice to sort out problems with their break.

"You usually have the right to claim compensation if a mistake by your holiday company, like lost luggage or a sub-standard hotel, affects your break. Your holiday insurance can also pay out in these circumstances, so make sure you know exactly what your insurance covers before you go."

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "Scots work hard and look forward to their holidays. If your holiday is ruined by someone else's poor service or neglect or scam, you don't need to suffer in silence.

"As a consumer you have rights and we are here to help you understand and enforce those rights."