Making the initial complaint to your Travel Provider

Holidaymakers will often make complaints whilst they are away from home:

  1. Where they have suffered with problems or illness at a hotel, they may have completed a Customer Complaints Form;
  2. Holidaymakers may have contacted the Travel providers 24/7 ‘helpline’;
  3. Air Passengers may have lodged complaints with their airline;
  4. Cruise passengers may have lodged a complaint with the on-board purser;
  5. Returning holidaymakers may have completed a ‘Quality’ Questionnaire on the flight home.

If you recognise any of these scenarios, you have completed the first stage of making your complaint and so giving the Travel provider the opportunity to ‘put right what has gone wrong’.

It also presents the Travel provider with the opportunity to collect evidence against you, so for example:

  1. Did you report all your complaints to the Travel Provider?
  2. Did you mention that upset stomach or other illness?
  3. Did you tell them about your injury?

If you didn’t then the Travel Provider may try to claim that these things did not happen to you or that they cannot investigate your ‘new claims’ because time has now passed by!

You may be a holidaymaker who has not done any of the above and so may feel that it is too late!

The simple message is – don’t worry, in each of these cases, it is still not too late to make your complaint when you come home.

If you missed some detail out or didn’t complain at the time, now is the moment to deal with these minor problems and explain why you left detail out or why you didn’t complain at the time. Holidaymakers tell us that the reason that they didn’t make a detailed complaint or that they failed to do so could include:


  1. Not being able to find the tour operator or airline representative;
  2. No complaint forms being available;
  3. The ‘rep’ didn’t record all the details;
  4. They could not get through to the Travel Company’s helpline.

If you have taken a Package or ‘DIY Holiday (this would include cruises or tours) your contract will tell you that you must make a full written complaint within 28 days of your return; sometimes that period is shorter or longer! This requirement for you to write a letter of complaint is made under Regulation 15 (9) of the Package Travel Regulations

If your complaint concerns flight delays, denied boarding or flight cancellation, then your ‘obligation’ is partially stated under Article 16 of EC Regulation 261/2004 where in the event that the airline does not deal with your complaints under this Regulation, then you should make your complaint to the ‘National Enforcement Body’ (in the UK’s case the Civil Aviation Authority).

If your complaint involves lost, delayed or damaged baggage, then you have to make your complaint to the airline. The first stage before you leave the baggage reclaim area is to complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). You should then write to the Airline to claim compensation for your Lost (21 days after it should have been received), Delayed (within 21 Days) or Damaged (within 7 Days of receipt of the baggage) bags. Your obligations and rights to compensation are found under The Montreal Convention.

Writing a letter can be a daunting prospect; we have an ideal solution for you from HolidayTravelWatch –by clicking here – you can access free holiday complaints letters to help you make that first step!

Tip: When you come home you should always make a formal written complaint and make sure that you send it to the Travel Provider or Airline by Special or Recorded Delivery; if you choose to send it by e mail always make sure that you put a read receipt on the e mail and make a diary entry reminding you to chase up any lack of acknowledgement!