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There's nothing worse than saving up for a holiday only for it to be ruined due to events out of your control. Of course, there's not much you can do about bad weather or being struck by a mysterious bug. 

But you could claim compensation if your holiday was ruined by an airline, train operator or ferry service that let you down. To make sure you know what your rights are, we're going to take you through how to claim for a transport disaster.


Only recently, British Airways apologised to passengers after up to 75,000 of its passengers were hit by delays after a computer glitch affected check-in. Holidaymakers faced long waits at check-in, the baggage drop and the tarmac before take-off.

In the past, customers could only claim compensation if the reason for a delay was due to 'unforeseen' circumstances but there has since been changes to flight compensation rules.

In 2015, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of passengers and said they should be able to claim compensation for flight delays caused by technical issues (including IT). Under this, you're entitled to up to €600 (£502) in compensation if your flight arrives more than three hours late.

You still won't receive compensation for so-called extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather or strike action, but a technical fault does not count as extraordinary.  

Most airlines will let you file a claim on their website or you can always call the firm's customers service number. If you're unsuccessful, you can take your complaint to an independent dispute service or the Civil Aviation Authority (AA) who will investigate your case for free. 


If your connecting train is delayed or the last train of the night is cancelled, the train company you used has an obligation to get you home.

The train company must either arrange to get you to the destination or provide you with overnight accommodation under Section 42 of the National Rail's Conditions of Carriage. If something like this has happened to you already but you weren't aware of the rule, you can still claim a refund. 

Fill in an expenses claim – this is usually found on the rail company's website – or you can pick one up from the ticket office. To prove your claim, attach copies of any receipts and include a description of why you are claiming.

Be aware that each train company has its own rules about how long you must be delayed before it will pay out. Find out more about claiming compensation if your train is delayed here – you could receive automatic compensation with Virgin Trains.


Decided to travel by ferry only to be delayed due to strike action or bad weather? The rules around ferry companies giving you a refund are not as clear, but some firms are starting to put customer-friendly policies in place.

For example, Brittany Ferries will try to re-route you to your destination by sending your ferry to a different port. If you're not happy with the suggested new route, it will give you a full refund of the ticket price. Most big ferry companies should have a similar policy but check directly with them to make sure. 

You might be entitled to compensation under Article 19 of EC Regulation 1177/2010 if the reason for the delay was within the firm's control. This includes technical faults and shortages of staff. Depending on your delay, you can receive between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of your ticket price.

Did your holiday get off to a bad start before you stepped out the front door? These are your rights if your holiday firm goes bust.  

Legal Information