News item

Flight worries advice

Travel expert Bruce Treloar, a Principal Trading Standards Officer, offers these guidelines for BA customers who might be affected if the proposed strike goes ahead:

ONE: You will not receive a refund or be re-routed until you hear directly from BA – or your Travel Agent, if you booked by this method – that the strike is confirmed.

TWO: Even if you booked by Credit Card, you will not be able to make a claim until it is confirmed the strike is on.

Even then, the airline is required to rebook or refund the consumer, so there would be no advantage in claiming.

THREE: BA’s conditions of carriage require the consumer is rerouted or refunded but no compensation is payable.

In legal terms, the strike becomes an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ – so no compensation can be sought.

FOUR: Consumers should check the terms and conditions of their travel insurance. But it is unlikely they will offer any more than the airline.

FIVE: There could be real problems for consumers who have booked two or more flights on different airlines to get to their destination –which would usually show a saving – and one of the airlines is BA. This is because no there is no compensation payable and BA will only reroute or refund

Yet to book your holiday?

With the collapse of Scottish Operator Globescan this week and the current BA problems, people planning a winter break abroad are advised to watch out for cheap holidays on the internet – they could end up being a very much more expensive option,

Until late this summer, ‘package holidays’ always meant that if your chosen tour operator collapsed, you would get a full refund or be flown home if stranded abroad.

But the credit squeeze has had an effect on all companies and some very large online operators have changed their operations and no longer provide the ‘package holiday’ protection consumers expect by law.

Bruce advices: 'Unwary consumers will see the website displays flights and hotels to pick from. After selection they will see the combined price for the holiday and will make the payment, fully expecting their package holiday to be fully protected by the Package Travel Regulations.

'However, their holiday protection may consist of individual protection for each component. So if either the hotel or flight operator collapses, the consumer is left to find another hotel to go with the flight or another flight to go with the hotel.'

He warns travellers not to be confused by the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) logo.

'It used to guarantee safe passage and protection – but not any more. ABTA has changed its rules and its membership includes a large number of online operators that no longer protect consumers for their traditional package holiday,' said Bruce.

Holiday makers are advised by the Trading Standards Service to:

ONE: Look for the ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) logo, which guarantees protection.

TWO: Be wary of assuming the combination of accommodation and flight will always provide the security the consumer expects.

THREE: Make sure the holiday price is inclusive of all charges you can’t avoid, taxes on flight, for example.

'Always inform Trading Standards if you are suddenly told of extra fees just as you pay,' said Bruce.

FOUR: Be aware you will have no protection if it states anywhere on the website ‘We do not sell package holidays’.

FIVE: Contact Trading Standards if you have any concerns as to the method of advertising and selling package holidays on the internet.

SIX: Be aware of your airline’s limits for baggage that you can carry on board.

'Some airlines charge for items to be placed in the hold, which could be an unexpected extra charge,' said Bruce.