Why is this important?
You want to cancel your holiday
If you’ve changed your mind about a holiday or you can’t go away because of an emergency you’ll need to cancel your holiday booking. Your right to cancel will depend on the terms and conditions of your holiday contract. This page explains what you can do if you want to cancel a holiday you’ve booked.
What you need to know
To work out your rights to cancel your holiday, you need to know whether you booked a package holiday or whether you're travelling independently.
If you booked a package holiday you will be protected by special regulations. If you organised your holiday yourself, booking flights, accommodation and services separately then you are an independent traveller. As an independent traveller if you booked your holiday in the UK you are protected by general consumer law. If you’re not sure if your holiday is a package or not see Are you a package holidaymaker or an independent traveller?
Can you cancel a package holiday once your booking has been confirmed?
Under package holiday regulations you only have the right to cancel if your organiser has made major changes to your holiday. If your organiser hasn’t made any changes to your holiday your right to cancel will depend on the terms and conditions of your holiday contract. You may be able to cancel your holiday but your organiser might charge you a cancellation fee. You will normally be able to find information about your organiser’s cancellation policy in your holiday brochure or with your booking information.
Can you transfer your booking to someone else?
Under package holiday regulations you can transfer your holiday booking to someone else if you are prevented from going on the holiday. Prevented must mean something more than just changing your mind - for example, illness or the death of a close relative.
If you’ve been prevented from going on holiday, you should be able to transfer your booking as long as:
- you’ve given reasonable notice – your organiser can set a time limit in your contract
- the person you're transferring to meets the holiday requirements – for example is the right age if it’s an 18-30 holiday.
The organiser can charge you a transfer fee as long as they’ve given you information about this in your holiday contract.
Some tour operators keep the right to give someone from their reserve list the opportunity to go on the holiday. This means they will choose who the booking is transferred to rather than allowing you to transfer it to someone yourself.
If transferring is expensive or complicated, it may be easier to make a claim on your travel insurance.
Can you cancel a flight or accommodation booking once it’s been confirmed?
If your hotel or airline wants to make big changes to your booking you should be able to cancel without being charged any fees. If there are no changes to your booking, you won’t have any automatic right to cancel and you might be charged a cancellation fee.
What are the terms and conditions of your contract?
If you have no rights to cancel you will need to check your holiday contract or the terms and condition of your ticket.
Your accommodation confirmation agreement should tell you whether you have to pay a cancellation fee and how much it is. If your holiday company is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), they will list the cancellation fees in their brochure or website. If your agreement doesn't allow for cancellation you may have to cover the loss made by the holiday company because of your cancellation. If this happens you should consider making a claim on your travel insurance.
The terms and conditions of your ticket will explain your airline's cancellation policy. If you need to cancel your flight due to something like a death in your family, it’s worth contacting the airline and explaining what’s happened as they may be prepared to give you a refund in these circumstances.
Can you claim on your travel Insurance?
Your insurer will only meet a claim for a cancelled holiday if you can show you had a good reason to cancel it. This might include:
- unexpected illness, injury or death of you, your partner or a travelling companion
- if you're pregnant and advised not to travel for a medical reason which occurred after you took the policy out
- if you're called for jury service or as a witness in court.
You will need to check the terms and conditions of your travel insurance to see if your circumstances are covered.
Other useful information
Holiday trade associations who may be able to help with complaints
Telephone: 020 3117 0599
Telephone: 020 8744 9280