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For more than 10 years, Travelwatchdog has existed as a voluntary service to help the traveller. Have you suffered at the hands of a tour operator, travel agent, holiday company, bucket shop, airline, hotel or any other organisation involved in the travel trade, or had an accident or illness abroad? Are you looking for interesting travel experiences? In addition to helping members of the public who have problems with the travel trade, we also report and advise independently on trips for the traveller of which we have direct experience, some of which will not be found in the brochure. Do you have a particularly good travel experience about which you would like to tell others? We give equal space to both Saints and Sinners in the industry. You can contact our HELP DESK by clicking here.   We are pleased that over recent years our focus has achieved a better balance between helping travellers with problems and advising those who are planning trips. More and more travellers are consulting us, particularly about 'that trip of a lifetime'. We welcome your enquiries. There is no fee or obligation and we do not try to sell you anything. Difficult to believe, but true! If you in any way doubt your ability to get justice from one of the industry sinners please read Eileen's Story at this link and that of Shirley, immediately below.

There is no travel ombudsman and some elements of the industry have a poor record when it comes to dealing with justified complaints. Moreover, almost all travel sites offering help are actually selling something. We are not. Some travel agents and tour operators, particularly those joining the trade via the internet, will steadfastly reject even the most convincing of evidence, feeling safe in the knowledge that there is very little chance of ever being held to account. ABTA, being funded by the industry will support their paymasters in almost all cases, whereas we accept no support or 'free trips' and promise 100% honesty. If you have a legitimate complaint we try to help. If you do not, we say so. Similarly, unlike media correspondents, we do not travel as 'guests of the company'. What we write about a trip is our honest opinion, not a fudge in case our free travel is cut off! The bottom line is that you can trust our advice and the information given in our travel articles. If you have a complaint, simply want some travel advice, or have a good travel story to tell, please contact us using the form at this link

Traveller! Whatever else you do during this visit, please read the thumbnails on this page. It could save you money and heartache.

Shirley .........v Thomas Cook - York County Court

Big travel agents and tour operators are not merely agents without responsibility. They have a contract to deliver what they have promised you.

In February 2012 Shirley and her partner booked, with Thomas Cook, their dream cruise to the Holy Land. Princess Cruises were the cruise line and the cruise was to depart in November 2012. Thomas Cook took the money and issued confirmation documents and the matter rested until a couple of weeks before the cruise was due to depart. Shirley went on-line to download boarding passes and bag tags etc. and found that their cruise had been cancelled and they had been transferred to a Dead Sea and Croatia cruise. Thomas Cook denied any knowledge or liability saying that they had not been informed and they were merely the agents and thus had no liability in the matter. However, they did offer a full refund that Shirley eventually received.

Shirley was devastated at the loss of her dream trip. (It had apparently been cancelled as early as April 2012). Train tickets had been booked and a substantial number of purchases made in readiness for the holiday. We advised seeking compensation from Thomas Cook who waved away the claim saying that it was not their fault and came up with their regular but spurious claim: “We are just the agents. We take the money but have no responsibility beyond that. We don’t pay compensation”

We advised that Shirley should take her claim for £1000 compensation to the County Court under the small claims procedure. Shirley did just that. Thomas Cook entered a defence that they were - you guessed it! “Just the agents and should not be the defendants”. In May 2013 a mediation hearing was held, but TC still insisted they should not be the defendants although they did offer a paltry £300. Shirley rejected this and went to court where Thomas Cook were represented by a hot-shot lawyer whose job was to make certain they did not have to meet their clear responsibility. On 6th August the York County Court Judge took a different view and awarded Shirley her £1000, dismissing the stance of Thomas Cook that they were not responsible for delivering the contract they had made with Shirley at the time of booking.

The message here is clear. This is the second time Thomas Cook has lost this type of case in a couple of months. It confirms that if a travel agent takes your money and contracts to provide you with a holiday, that travel agent is responsible for delivery. They cannot hide their maladministration or failure behind the shield of only being the agent. In this case Thomas Cook took the money and had a duty to Shirley to monitor her booking and keep her informed of any changes. They failed to do so. Accordingly, they were responsible for Shirley losing her holiday and could not deflect the blame to others. Travellers should be encouraged by this confirmation that in a poorly regulated consumer sector, the courts are prepared to back legitimate claims.

General Travel Advice

Even the experienced traveller needs to take a great deal of care in planning a trip. Most of the time nothing goes wrong, but if it does you really do need to be prepared. Take advantage of our printable travel trip check list and avoid the pitfalls that are regularly reported to us.

Travel Insurance

In recent months we have had many cases where holiday stopping events have occured after booking. ALWAYS arrange travel insurance as soon as you make your flight or holiday booking. Tour operators and travel agents will not normally refund however bad the tragedy. They make sympathetic noises but some see it as a bonus rather than a problem. To them it's a holiday they may be able to sell twice! Use our travellers check list at this link.

Travel Regulation Care

Travellers must be aware that it is their personal responsibility to ensure that they meet all Visa and other travel requirements before commencing their journey. The consequence of not doing so can be profound.

Mr K's family recently travelled to Brazil without him, but when Mrs K and her children attempted to return to the UK, they were prevented from doing so by the Brazilian authorities who will not allow a lone parent to take children out of the country. In this case, not being aware of the regulations before travel has caused a great deal of distress and additional expense.

Expect travel agents and airlines to offer advice on such matters, but they do not have the final responsibility; YOU DO! Check with the visa section of the relevant embassy if you are not certain that you are absolutely aware of the requirements you must meet for your journey.

Stop being a 'Sticky' Customer!

What is a 'sticky' customer? This is a term companies apply to those customers who either by design or ignorance can be relied upon to stay with the company. This happens where a company earns a reputation for being good value and despite market trends offering better value almost everywhere else, the company retains its customers because those customers are too lazy or too foolish to research other opportunities.

Beware Europcar on the Continent

Over the past couple of years we have had a number of e-mails about outrageous charges levied by Europcar for minor damage to hire cars. Europcar, owned by EURAZEO, is a franchise organisation with some very dodgy franchisees. Nice seems to be the worst place to hire from this company. The credit card of one customer was debited over €919 for a small dent in a bumper caused when they left the vehicle in a car park. More recently, another Europcar Nice customer's card was debited more than €500 for a dent in the steel wheel of a Peugeot and another in Malaga, €800 for a broken clutch cable! You can avoid such overcharging by using a credit card with a very low spend limit or avoiding this company altogether.


Before Travelling to any suspect region, check the latest travel advice with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:



Finding new experiences is one of the great joys of travel. In these days when conforming to a pattern is more and more a part of life, when you find something different it is worth letting people know. If you are going to the Auburn area of California drop in and see Charlie Green at his fabulous winery in the hills.


USA Car Hire Scam - Read and be Prepared

You may be charged hundreds of dollars for rental car insurance -- even if you decline it!

Hundreds of stories on consumer advocate website describe being overcharged hundreds of dollars by Dollar Rent a Car and its sister company, Thrifty Car Rental. The website is run by San Diego attorney and investigative journalist John Mattes, who is currently counsel in two insurance overcharges lawsuits against Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.

How does the alleged "scam" work? Consumers complain that the employees do one or more of the following:

a) Claim that the rental car insurance is mandatory (often claiming a "new law" specific to the state/country the traveler is in)

b) Tell the consumer they won't be charged for insurance, but add on the charges before the consumer signs

c) Direct the consumer to click a button or sign on an electronic screen. The consumer is told they're declining insurance, when they're actually accepting the charges

d) Fold the receipt so that any extra or unauthorized charges aren't immediately visible

When consumers complain at the counter, they're often rebuffed with "You signed the contract, there's nothing we can do." How can you prevent this from happening to you? Learn what your existing insurance (auto, credit card, travel) covers. Be very clear and vocal that you do not want any extra insurance. Be wary of items called "Loss Damage Waiver" and "RoadSafe". If directed to check a box or sign a contract, have the employee confirm what it is for. Review your contract/receipt at the counter and note any discrepancies beforehand. 

Have you been overcharged for insurance by Dollar / Thrifty Rent a Car? You're not alone. Attorney John Mattes wants to hear from you. Please see or email to get in touch. 

The information in this message is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.



© - June "> 2015. Images, video and articles from the site may be freely downloaded, but may only be reproduced in their full version and in the context in which they appear here

A message from the Editor

For more than 10 years we have offered free advice to the travelling public and, apart from a small annual payment from one of Britain's top firms of Solicitors and a few public donations, we have personally met all of the considerable costs of maintaining the site. If you wish to help, please use the Paypal button below. A Paypal account is not necessary.

Yours sincerely,

Bob Braban

About the Editor: Bob enjoyed a long career in the Royal Air Force before spending 10 years as a public school Bursar and a further 5 years as head of Education Marketing International. Throughout this time he worked concurrently as a part-time freelance journalist, for a period with BBC local radio and regional daily newspapers. Legally educated and widely travelled, he started in 2002 after successfully fighting misrepresentation by e-bookers and realising that in travel matters there is no independent source of advice assistance for those who feel they have been wronged. In recent years more focus has been placed on trip planning and pre-travel advice

Water cascading down Yoemite Falls, Cailfornia

The Stunning Yosemite Falls. Part of the California Tour


Photograph of golden domes at Perterhof, St. Petersburg

The Domes at Peterhof St Petersburg A highlight of any Baltic Cruise





Before you travel to the Middle East on holiday – Understand the Risks

Two years ago we issued a strong warning about travelling on holiday to the Middle East in general and Egypt and Sharm el Sheikh in particular. The area is particularly volatile since the Arab Spring and as well as a general risk from random attacks on individuals and groups, there has always been a serious problem with airport and aircraft security. The recent downing of the MetroJet flight serves as a timely reminder that airport and aircraft security is a lottery, particularly in the regions mentioned.

Travellers are generally impressed by the visible security measures at all international airports and those are backed up, to varying degrees, by measures the public cannot see. Don’t for one minute believe that this overt and covert activity creates anything like total safety. It does not! For almost four months some 50 years ago, I was responsible for the security at an international civil airport just 765Km from Sharm el Sheikh. I quickly found that despite having a lot of real good security staff and limitless powers to control entry, search vehicles, search passengers and staff, search all packages and restrict entry from outside the perimeter, the security was nevertheless flawed for reasons beyond my control. Technology and a host of other advances in security have ensued, but so have advances in bomb-making and the basic problem has only been reduced, not solved.

The number one problem is:

How do you guarantee the security integrity of what arrives on your runway? Every international airport receives flights from near and far and your security is as good as the security at the worst airport in the chain of flights that has brought that aircraft and its passengers and cargo to your runway.

Consider this: A light aircraft flown by a terrorist sympathiser takes off from a small airfield in an African state where security is very lax. A member of the crew is carrying a small parcel containing an explosive device. On their arrival at a larger feeder airfield he lands and is already inside the secure area. There maybe security measures in place, but at many airfields they will be poor. This is particularly the case at smaller airports where everyone is familiar with everyone else and unjustified trust is built up, thus reducing essential checks. By arrangement, the carrier passes the package to another sympathiser who places it, again by arrangement, under seat 38 on an airliner scheduled to fly to your airport. On arrival at your airport, say Sharm el Sheikh for example, an aircraft cleaner who is also a sympathiser, collects the package from seat 38. His cleaning duties take him to another aircraft where he arms the package and leaves it in a suitable place. Of course airport security officials try to take action to prevent such events, but they are a great deal more difficult to prevent than other incursions. More advanced international airports will have a far better grip on the problem than those in less well developed countries, but if you choose to holiday in places like Sharm el Sheikh you are taking a real risk.

If you are a UK Senior Citizen looking for other than travel advice, you may find these links of interest :

Booking on-line

Every week brings several stories of financial losses by travellers who have made mistakes whilst booking on-line. Getting travel companies to put these errors right is almost impossible with the best and quite impossible with the worst. They see it as money in the bank. if you are not confident go to a travel agent. If you are confident, take care. If you are over-confident, go to a travel agent! read this:



If you are approached by Resort Key be very cautious. See our complaint of the month for details

We have had a host of recent complaints about this company who take additonal charges from credit cards without the customer's authorisation. Although they are they operate out of Leipzig in Germany. They do not return calls and frequently send information etc. in German. Our advice is to avoid them like the plague.

Airline Return Tickets - Warning!

James who is currently in Australia e-mailed to say that he was stuck in Australia. To ensure that he could travel back to the UK on the same flight as his girl friend he purchased a return ticket intending to use only the return half. When he did not turn up for the outbound flight the airline voided to whole ticket so he lost his money.

This highlights a problem that can affect quite a number of people and one that arises from general ignorance of airline practices. If you purchase a return airline ticket and do not make the outward journey, the airline will void the whole ticket. They assume the right to believe that if you did not go, you will not be coming back. They pocket your money and sell the ticket again.




On Advice:

George Harris (1844-1922) US Educator

I intended to give you some advice but now I remember how much is left over from last year unused!

Oswald Theodore Avery (1877 -1955)

Whenever you fall, pick up something.

Edward VIII (1894-1972) Only two rules really count. Never miss an opportunity to relieve yourself; never miss the chance to sit down and rest your feet.