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Our Booked Flight is Full: Can We Claim a Refund?

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 30 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Flight Cancellation Airline Package

Q.

Our tour operator has told us that they cannot accommodate us on our booked flight and that they can only offer us a flight to a different airport. This would then require a 2 hour coach journey to our hotel.

Can we legally cancel the holiday and have a full refund?

(J.T, 8 April 2009)

A.

Flight cancellations and associated problems are a really complex area of law, which is affected by several different factors.

It’s likely that somewhere in the small print, the tour company will have covered themselves for this eventuality by saying that they reserve the right to alter flight times, airport (and other details of your holiday).

The Package Travel Regulations

In this case, the regulations take into account what is ‘reasonable’ in terms of notice and any other consideration that the tour operator makes to accommodate you. Technically, although it may be irritating and inconvenient, the tour operator is still getting you to your destination, and has arranged for an alternative method of getting you from the airport to your hotel. That’s all they have to do to uphold their side of the contract – and if you cancel the holiday you may find yourself at the mercy of their cancellation charges.

If the flight that you are now departing on leaves on the same day as the one you were due to depart on, and the flight time is within 12 hours of your original time, unfair as it sounds, it’s unlikely that you will not be entitled to compensation either, unless the flight has been changed from a day to a night flight.

EU Flight Cancellation Rules

Under EU law, you can claim compensation from an airline from which you have purchased a flight, if that flight is cancelled seven days or less before departure and the replacement flight departs no more than one hour before the original scheduled flight time, and arrives less than two hours after its original scheduled arrival time.

If your flight is cancelled 10 -14 days before you were due to depart, and the new flight will depart less than two hours before the original scheduled departure time, and is due to arrive less than four hours after your original arrival time, you can also claim compensation.If you are given more than 14 days notice, you can cancel the flight and claim a refund.

These rules apply to flights only and your contract would be with the airline. As your holiday is a package holiday, you have no direct contract with the airline and won’t be able to make any claim against them under EU Flight Regulations.

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Jo - Your Question:
We booked a first choice holiday to Turkey and at the time of booking we had a Thomson flight number departing UK 20th May at 14.10pm arriving at 20.25pm. This then changed to TBA and when queried was told it was because they had to change the aircraft for whatever reason but the flight times will remain the same. Logged on today to see that the carrier has changed from Thomson to Freebird and the departure time has changed to 21.35 and is not due to land in Turkey until 3.50am! we would not have booked this holiday if this were the flight time. To me this is a night flight when the original flight was not a night flight. I know there is a Thomas Cook flight earlier on the same day but if we wanted to change to that First a Choice are saying would have to pay an extra £1400 (because it's not a Thomson flight). This change also means that we would only have 13 nights in our hotel rather than the 14 we booked and paid for. Also, the return flight is earlier than the original, which is fine, but we've paid for late check out, can we get this back if we no longer need it?Sorry for the long message! Please can you advise where we stand?Thank you!

Our Response:
Looking at Thomson's terms and conditions, they will only offer compensation for flight departures that change by more than 12 hours.Because you will be arriving at 3.50am this will count as your first night so you will not be able to claim for losing a night. You should get a refund for the late check out.
YourTravelRights - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:20 PM
We booked a first choice holiday to Turkey and at the time of booking we had a Thomson flight number departing UK 20th May at 14.10pm arriving at 20.25pm. This then changed to TBA and when queried was told it was because they had to change the aircraft for whatever reason but the flight times will remain the same. Logged on today to see that the carrier has changed from Thomson to Freebird and the departure time has changed to 21.35 and is not due to land in Turkey until 3.50am! we would not have booked this holiday if this were the flight time. To me this is a night flight when the original flight was not a night flight. I know there is a Thomas Cook flight earlier on the same day but if we wanted to change to that First a Choice are saying would have to pay an extra £1400 (because it's not a Thomson flight). This change also means that we would only have 13 nights in our hotel rather than the 14 we booked and paid for. Also, the return flight is earlier than the original, which is fine, but we've paid for late check out, can we get this back if we no longer need it? Sorry for the long message!Please can you advise where we stand? Thank you!
Jo - 30-Mar-17 @ 9:14 PM
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