So now that I have a good few miles under my belt I really want to start thinking about what makes a good traveller. If course saving money is a top priority as is being eco friendly where possible. One of the things I have learnt most about is what to do when things go wrong! So here are a few tips me and a few new friends I met whilst waiting for a very delayed flight put together! Lots of experience here and some very good advise!
First Top tip
Always check airline and hotel bookings (especially those made through third parties) before departure. A quick phone call can save a lot of bother — and you might even get a better room.
Holiday discounts, not cash!
If you have suffered a miserable trip, the last thing you want in compensation is a Scrooge-like discount on a holiday with the same company. Phaedra Patrick’s parents went on a two-week cruise on the Thomson Dream, which cost almost £3,000, but suffered sleepless nights due to the sound of water pouring from the ceiling outside their door. They were so tired that even after they moved cabins in the second week they were too stressed to enjoy the holiday. After they returned, they complained and were sent a voucher for 10 per cent off another holiday. When I got involved, Thomson apologised and offered £550. As a result, they have booked with Thomson again.
Another Top Tip
Be persistent. If you are offered vouchers, ask for a cash refund. If you are offered vouchers for flight delays, under EU261 rules, you are entitled to refuse and take cash instead.
Dodging compensation claims
Airlines continue to try to avoid paying compensation for delays and cancellations — even when the CAA has ruled that “extraordinary circumstances” don’t apply. Barrie Hudson’s wife and son were booked on BMI Regional from Aberdeen to Bristol to attend a funeral, but the flight was delayed for more than five hours. He claimed compensation of €250 (£220) each for the delay, but BMI claimed the flight disruption was due to a manufacturing issue and wouldn’t pay up. After my intervention it did pay.
Top tip Check if your chosen carrier has signed up to one of the new Alternative Dispute Resolution schemes that have been approved by the CAA to deal with claims — and whose decisions are generally binding. A full list can be found at caa.co.uk.
Extra car-hire charges
Car rental companies woo customers with alluring headline rates and rely on high-pressure sales techniques at the desk to make money. They know that when we get to the counter, fractious and keen to be on our way, we may sign up for excess insurance and other extras we don’t need. All-inclusive rates are coming closer with changes from the Competition and Markets Authority. These insist that, by next month, young-driver surcharges, one-way fees and fuel charges are to be included in the headline price. There’s still a long way to go, however, and car-hire comparison websites such as moneymaxim.co.uk are helpful for winkling out hidden costs.
Final Top tip (for now!)
Buy excess insurance before you travel (insurance4carhire.com and icarhireinsurance.com are reliable) but be prepared for the car rental company to take a huge (often more than £1,000) deposit from your credit card if you do.