Natalie and Gary Booth wanted to celebrate their second wedding anniversary in style. So the couple, from Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, booked a four-night romantic break in Amsterdam with the online travel giant Loveholidays.
The trip involved flying from Manchester on the evening Friday 14 July and a private transfer from Schiphol airport to a Best Western hotel in the quiet and attractive Zaan district, north of the city centre.
But on the day of departure their outbound flight became one of the thousands of UK departures cancelled this summer by easyJet.
Fortunately the couple had booked a package holiday, which comes with robust consumer protection. The final invoice included £2.50 each for an Atol protection contribution – a sure sign that this was a package holiday.
Under the Package Travel Regulations, holiday companies must deliver the trip as planned or hand back the money.
Yet after the easyJet cancellation scuppered their plans, Loveholidays told the couple they were due only the £364 cost of the flights back. They were left almost £700 out of pocket.
Gary Booth told The Independent: “We had no other means of getting to our destination so we had to go back home.
“We have been told that our flight cost will be refunded but our hotel and transfer cost, totalling £698.73, remain in the hands of Loveholidays.
“They say they can’t refund us because it wasn’t their fault easyJet cancelled the flight.”
That is a misrepresentation of the rules. Loveholidays is responsible for the proper performance of every aspect of the package holiday, including the flights.
As the travel trade association Abta says in its guidance for holidaymakers: “Your travel company is responsible for making sure that you get the holiday you paid for.
“If something isn’t provided or isn’t as expected, and your travel company or its suppliers is at fault, they will need to sort this out for you – either resolving the issue, offering an alternative or providing a full or partial refund.”
Because the whole trip was off due to easyJet’s late cancellation, the couple were due all their money back.
The Independent then contacted Loveholidays on the couple’s behalf, pointing out their entitlement to a full refund. The company has now apologised and handed back the outstanding money – as well as giving the couple a £100 voucher for a future trip.
A spokesperson for Loveholidays said: “We are really sorry that Mr and Mrs Booth were mistakenly given the wrong advice regarding their holiday and have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.
“We have now refunded all elements of their holiday and thank The Independent for bringing this to our attention.”