What British people can do when travel plans go bad – do Americans have any recourse?

From this article, I get the impression that British travelers who are unhappy with their travel agents get taken care of much better than Americans in the same situation.

For example this story talks about a British couple that had planned a trip to Egypt. Then they had to cancel when they found out the flight schedule had changed. The travel agent (Thomas Cook) offered them a full refund plus 50 British Pounds (about $100).

That sounds wonderful to me – I can’t even begin to imagine an American company giving you a full refund. Something a little extra for your trouble is just out of the question, isn’t it?

But the British couple said 50 pounds wasn’t enough – they wanted 10,000 pounds. Now that’s American thinking!

This left the British couple with two choices:

Disappointed holidaymakers have two options: arbitration through the Abta (Association of British Travel Agents) scheme, where a third party hears both sides and makes a decision resolving the dispute; or going through the courts.

In America, I think the only real choice is calling one of the newspaper travel troubleshooters or trying the troubleshooting process out on your own. I don’t know of an arbitration system, and going to court would probably be too difficult and expensive. And with the troubleshooters, you’re lucky to get your money back. You’re lucky to get any money back, really.

So the British couple in this story went to arbitration and lost. Honestly, what were they thinking asking for 10,000 pounds?

Now some people complain that Abta favors travel agents (considering the name stands for Association of British Travel Agents, I guess this wouldn’t surprise me) but statistics show that many travelers do win even if their rewards are not as big as their claims.

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  1. Linda Bator says:

    What the article DOESN’T state, is that the same scenario for the airlines exists here in the US. If the flight is changed in such a way, you are entitled to a full refund from the airline, and so they received exactly what a US client would have in the same situation. If you DO have a problem with a US agent, contact ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents).

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