You’ve packed your flip-flops, guidebooks and factor 50, and are wearing your baggy clothes ready for the flight, but are you prepared in case something goes wrong on your holiday?
The good news is, if you’ve booked your trip with us, our ABTA cover will ensure you’re protected from all sorts of hotel mishaps and disasters. But what if something else goes a little pear-shaped? Here are our tips to make sure you’re prepared for even the most unlikely travel nightmares.
1. Lost Passport
Firstly, don’t panic. Double check your hotel room and bags, and confirm you no longer have it.
Next, you’ll need to contact your embassy and let them know. It sounds scary, but they are used to this kind of thing. You’ll be able to find contact details for them online, or ask a hotel receptionist or your Travel companies rep who will also be able to help. The truly prepared will make a note of the phone number before they leave the UK.
TIP: Take a photocopy of your passport and pack it in a separate bag. Or store a picture of it on your phone. This will be invaluable in speeding up approval of an ‘emergency passport’.
You’ll need to show up at the embassy to collect an emergency passport (also known as an emergency travel document). Sorry, but your holiday plans will have to wait for the moment. If you’re with family, send them off to the beach without you and try to ignore the FOMO that is bound to hit.
An emergency passport usually costs £100, non-refundable, and should be ready in 2 working days. It works for a return flight, and can include a maximum of 5 transit countries if you aren’t going direct. It will get you home at the end of your holiday, and then it will expire. You’ll need to apply for a new one once you get back.
IMPORTANT: To get an emergency passport, you’ll also need to provide an itinerary for your journey (particularly return flights), a recent photo of yourself, and you’ll need to sign a document that will make your lost passport invalid in case someone else has it.
2. Missed Flight
Normally, you arrive 3 or more hours early, but this time something’s gone wrong and the plane’s gone without you. What do you do?
Go straight to the airline’s desk and let them know. They may get you on the next flight, and will let you know if there is a penalty fee.
However, they are not obliged to do this. You may have to pay again in full!
If you missed your flight but your luggage didn’t, for example, it was checked in the previous evening, the airline can locate the bags at their new destination and hold on to them until you get there.
3. Cancelled or Delayed Flight
If you find out your flight has been cancelled at very short notice, airlines will normally compensate passengers for the inconvenience. This is often the case if your EU flight is delayed for three hours or more. Depending on the airline, you may expect full refund or alternative travel arrangements, such as seats on a different plane. However, the airline is not legally obliged to provide compensation if the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond their control, such as extreme weather or volcanic eruption.
If you book two flights with separate airlines, and miss the second due to the first being cancelled, you will not be able to get a refund for the second flight. We’d recommend using the same airline wherever possible.
Speak to your travel agent for tips on claiming compensation on delayed or cancelled flights, or you can find template letters to help you online.
TIP: If you suspect your flight may get cancelled or delayed, call the airline. It may save you a drive to the airport and a whole lot of queueing with frustrated travellers.
4. Lost luggage
You’re at arrivals, the carousel is going around and around, but there is no sign of your suitcase. You even put the bright pink luggage tags on to make it easy to spot! It would appear your bags have been lost by the airline.
You need to take your luggage claim ticket to the airline office, and there you’ll fill out a missing luggage form.
It may have been delayed or put on the wrong flight, in which case the airline should deliver it straight to your hotel room within a day or so.
If they are unable to find it, you need to file a claim for damages. You will need to make a list of everything you had in your suitcase, and roughly how old it is, and they’ll work out a value for it and you’ll receive a cheque for the balance.
TIP: This obviously doesn’t help you if you’ve arrived at your destination with no clothes. If travelling with a partner, we recommend you mix your luggage between suitcases. This way, if one case goes missing, neither of you are left totally without clean clothes.
5. Lost boarding pass
Fortunately, most airlines now issue boarding passes electronically, meaning all you need to replace a lost boarding pass could be a smart-phone with email capabilities. Phone your airline as soon as you realise you’ve mislaid the pass, or go to their desk at the airport if you don’t discover it until the last minute.
If you only have a paper boarding pass, things get a little trickier, particularly if you don’t realise it is missing until the last minute. Contact your airline to find out how quickly they can reissue them, or if you can simply collect them from the airport.
If you fall ill in another country, you may gain a new found respect for the NHS as you might have to deal with bills and charges as well as just cultural differences. If you feel an imminent health issue may be a possibility, do what you can to prepare for all eventualities before your trip. Make a note of the country’s emergency numbers, your embassy’s details, etc, and sure you have adequate insurance. Having a European Health Insurance card will make reimbursement of costs considerably easier if you’re staying in Europe.
If you are severely injured, call local emergency numbers.
If payment is an issue, make sure you’re treated under the local public health care system, and not as a private patient.
If you lose important medications, contact your doctor at home who may be able to call in a prescription to a local chemist.
If you fall sick at your hotel, tell the receptionist. They may call a doctor for you, or call a taxi to take you to hospital.
Report the incident to your travel agent or tour rep. Emergency numbers are normally given to you within your tickets or welcome packs on arrival in resort. We can liaise with the airline and hotel if you need to extend your stay.
If the unthinkable happens, and one of your party dies whilst travelling abroad, a local doctor will need to be contacted to provide a death certificate. Once you have this, you can begin the process of bringing the deceased back home in a process known as ‘repatriation’. This may be covered by their travel insurance.
In circumstances like this, we recommend contacting an expert funeral director who can provide much needed guidance, make many of the necessary phone-calls, complete the paperwork and – if desired – bring the deceased directly back to them to care for. We (naturally) recommend Co-op Funeral Directors, and you can contact our Essex-based branches here.
8. Minor mishaps
Purely because we didn’t want to end this article on ‘DEATH’, we thought we should acknowledge the fact that minor hiccups can occasionally happen when travelling. From unexpected bouts of ‘Delhi-belly’ to those more ‘unusual’ travelling companions, holiday plans can sometimes go a little awry and not quite as expected. In these situations, it is important to remember that travel is meant to be an adventure and – more importantly – that it will make an amazing story when you get home!