Package Holidays – Volcanoes – And your rights

Many of us take package holidays, it’s nice and simple and everything is organised for us. Hotel, flights, transport between the two, and often excursions and food as well. It’s lovely, we can go off on holiday knowing everything is covered and we can relax and enjoy ourselves.

But what happens, when your wonderful package holiday is interrupted by a flight being cancelled because of a volcano that’s spewing ash across your flight path. What are your rights? and how do you go about making sure you don’t lose out?

Package holidays generally have they’re own protection. Holiday operators must refund customers for the whole holiday if flights are cancelled meaning that they can’t reach their holiday destination. Having said that, you may find you’ll be given a choice, either deferring your holiday and travelling a few days later, transferring to an alternative holiday of the same or similar value, or a refund. If you have taken out special holiday insurance you will need to look at the small print to see if you are covered or not.

If you find yourself able to get to your holiday destination, but once there the volcanic ash prevents you from flying home again, your holiday operator should again look after you. The operator is legally obliged to get you home, and in the meantime, they must offer you assistance. In most cases at the moment, that is taking the form of allowing customers to either continue their stay in their original hotel, or moving them to a similar one on either a half-board or all-inclusive basis.

For some people who are on holiday in places like mainland Spain, or in the Alps, alternative transport is being provided such as bus to get holiday makers back to the UK. There is a little uncertainty however about the legal side of things and the costs, as some industry insiders are saying that people travelling with an operator which is using a non-EU-based airline may not be able to claim the cost of accommodation and subsistence if they’re stranded beyond their expected date of return, and that though the operator must offer assistance, it may not involve financial help.

The best thing to do at the moment if you have a holiday booked is to check your operators booking terms and conditions and ask them (ideally in advance of travelling) what would happen if you cannot get home by aeroplane as planned.


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