Holiday Complaints & The ABTA Code of Conduct

The ABTA Code of Conduct is but one device that you as a Consumer can use to help you resolve your travel complaints. As the rise of Ombudsman services, quasi-Ombudsman services, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) demonstrate, it is important that you do not take such legalistic routes until:

  1. You have explored other options to advance your complaint, and
  2. Investigate any available Code of Conduct.

We understand that such decisions can be difficult, particularly if you feel that you are only being offered a legalistic route, therefore, if you are in doubt or in some difficulty, then:

  1. Call us on the telephone number on this page;
  2. E mail us using the contact form on this page;
  3. Read our updates and observations on the ABTA Code of Conduct;
  4. If you want to wait until you get responses, then bookmark this page - you can then come back to us, because
  5. We would be happy to guide you on your travel complaints (remember - we are not affiliated to ABTA nor to any Travel Company)!

This page is dedicated to providing you with an overview on the ABTA Code of Conduct.

The ABTA Code of Conduct is continually updated. The Code is designed to import a standard level of professional behaviour that you can expect from your travel agent or tour operator, if they are members of ABTA.

The Code has undergone several revisions in recent years. It is essential that you check the Code before making a complaint. If the Code published on the ABTA website is dated after your travel date, or the date on which you made your booking, then you should contact ABTA for a copy of the previous Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct deals with matters before booking, whilst making the booking, between booking and travel, after departure, communications between Members and Consumers and ABTA, general conduct and training, compliance with the Code of Conduct, Definition of Terms.

There is also a further document 'Guidance on the Application of the Code of Conduct' which should also be referred to.

ABTA requires that its members comply with the code of conduct of the association.

You should consider these rules when complaining about the actions of a tour operator, and how they apply to the circumstances of your complaint. The following is a summary of only some of the rules:

  • Rule 2A - that they should make every effort to ensure that Travel Arrangements sold to clients and compatible to their needs
  • Rule 2F & 2G - requires that before a contract is made that the travel agent or tour operator will provide information on health requirements and draw their attention to Department of Health travel health advice, and that before a contract is made the travel agent or tour operator shall advise on passport and visa requirements where it is reasonably practicable for them to do so. In other cases they will provide reasonable assistance in obtaining such information.
  • Rule 2H - requires that before a contract is made the travel agent or tour operator shall advise on the availability of advices issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Rule 2J, 2K & 2L - requires that the travel agent or tour operator shall draw the client’s attention to the availability of insurance suitable to the client’s needs, and should ensure that the client is aware of their duty to disclose pre-existing conditions
  • Rule 2I, 3I - imposes an obligation upon the tour operator where building works are taking place that could have a serious impact upon the ‘Travel Arrangements’. Where there is a problem, they must 'ensure' that they notify their clients – in such circumstances they must offer a transfer to alternative accommodation at the same price or to provide them with their rights under Regulation 12 or 13 of The Package Travel Regulations, where the building works amount to a significant change;
  • Rule6A -requires that its members will maintain a high standard of service.

If you are having difficulty in getting a tour operator to respond to your complaint, you should use the following rule and complain about the lack of response. ABTA will investigate and cause the tour operator to respond and can take disciplinary action against the operator for breaching the rule:

  • Rule 5A & 5B - imposes an obligation upon the tour operator to provide an acknowledgement to a letter of complaint with 14 days of receipt of the correspondence.  A detailed reply, or a letter explaining the reason for the delay in responding, shall be sent not later than 28 days from the date of receipt of the correspondence.

You should not tolerate failure(s) in the service in your holiday contract; your complaints are important and should be treated seriously!  You should consider taking a direct route and use our free template letter of complaint to the ABTA Code of Conduct Committee - click on the link to access our free letter! - Letter to ABTA Code of Conduct Committee

One of the many complaints we receive is that an ABTA member has failed, in some cases by many months, to respond to holiday complaints!  If the ABTA member has failed to respond to your letter of complaint, use our free template letter to complain about their failure to respond.  However, remember a failure to respond to you is a breach under the ABTA Code of Conduct and you can use the above letter to report the breach! 

If you would like to get a response from the tour operator or travel agent before deciding what steps you are going to take (including reporting a breach of the ABTA Code of Conduct - above paragraph), then we suggest you use the following letter.  ABTA will usually investigate and facilitate a response from the travel company for you.  Click on the following link to access our free letter! - Letter of Complaint to ABTA

In any event full details of the ABTA Code of Conduct and how to complain can be found on their website.

If your complaints with ABTA remains unresolved following your use of these letters, then please contact us at HolidayTravelWatch

Please see our Legal Notice for further information on our services.

Tags: ABTA ABTA Code of Conduct Holiday Complaints Trading Standards Institute TSI CCAS

  • How can I claim?
    • Were you ill or injured on holiday in the last 3 years?
    • Do you believe you booked a Package Holiday?

    If you can answer yes to both questions, you may be able to bring a claim under the Package Travel Regulations!

    Don't worry if you cannot answer yes to both questions; if you think you booked your travel independently, you may be able to make a claim against your travel provider or supplier!

  • Other Holiday Problems;
    How can I claim?
    • Have you suffered with failures in your holiday or flight contract?
    • Does your complaint against your holiday company arise in the last 6 years (UK Only) (flights 2 years)?

    If you can answer yes to both questions, you may be able to bring a claim against your travel provider or supplier.

  • What compensation can I claim?

    Whatever type of claim you have, the level of damages you can hope to get is based on a number of factors. Firstly you have to prove your case and then an assessment is carried out to determine the level of damages.

    Read our guide on damages....

  • Why should I claim?

    You have worked hard for that precious two week holiday in the sun! Holidays are the same as any other Consumer product - if it goes wrong, you have a right to claim.

    Read more about your rights ....

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