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20 Appalling Holiday Complaints & Problems!


HolidayTravelWatch continues to receive many complaints from holidaymakers concerning their experiences. Such complaints can range from holiday company collapses, airline flight delays or cancellations, bullying of holidaymakers who make complaints, serious gastric illness, confirmed illnesses such as Salmonella, Cryptosporidium or Shigella. We also hear from holidaymakers who report poor standards in hotel accommodation, poor hygiene practices - such as birds eating food, flies on food or sewage smells. Many complaints are simply met with indifference by hotel staff or tour company representatives, which causes further angst amongst holidaymakers, particularly when they have often paid many thousands of pounds for the privilege of suffering this abuse in their contract!

The 20 current most appalling holiday complaints are:

1. Family holiday to Egypt where a child was struck down by severe food poisoning, hospitalisation and subsequent scalding in the hotel restaurant;

2. Family holiday to Turkey found that most of their group were ill, they were diagnosed as suffering with Salmonella & Cryptosporidium;

3. Holidaymaker not receiving details of the holiday they booked and paid for, despite many calls they received no documentation, offered details of 3 airlines they would fly with and denials that they had spoken to named individuals at the tour company;

4. Returning holidaymakers being ’fined’ (not having their deposit returned) for failing to clean apartment, despite the fact that they maintain that they did;

5. Holidaymakers booked a hotel in Bulgaria in June, only to be told once they paid that the hotel was closed! The alternatives offered were not close to the beach nor had the same facilities as that booked - no refund offered;

6. Honeymoon couple struck down with severe gastric illness and offered 4 lots of tablets each by local pharmacist, they suffered a horrendous journey back to the UK and are still suffering with sickness;

7. Flight changes to Greece means that one family will lose a day of their holiday - the tour company is refusing to provide a refund for the lost day;

8. Holidaymaker believed that they were booked with scheduled airline only to discover that they had been booked onto a low cost airline and subjected to hidden luggage charges, also not declared by the agent;

9. Within a short period of booking a holiday, it was discovered that one holidaymaker had cancer. The online travel retailer agreed to cancel and not take any money except for the deposit. The holidaymaker’s wife did everything asked of her to confirm the position - the company has now taken £1,636.00 (the full cost of the holiday) and claim that they received no cancellation confirmation - they are currently refusing to return the money;

10. Holidaymakers ’amalgamated’ from their hotel due to ’downturn’ (there was vomit in their chosen hotel’s pool) - transferred to new hotel to find food undercooked. They suffered illness along with other holidaymakers;

11. The failure of Freedom Direct meant that one group of 50 people and their apartment’s in Gran Canaria were not paid for - they had to pay for their accommodation when they arrived! ATOL & ABTA are now refusing to pay for their additional cost, despite the fact they believed they were ATOL covered;

12. One family reported that they had returned from Turkey and their daughter had been diagnosed with Salmonella - they report that many people were ill at the hotel;

13. A newly married couple are still waiting for their marriage certificate, 8 months after their wedding day, despite a major tour company stating that it was being organised;

14. One family reports that they suffered with severe illness, mosquito bites, lukewarm food, slime in drinks and birds eating off the dining room tables;

15. Holidaymakers to one hotel in Egypt reported sewage smells on the complex, gardens irrigated by stagnant water, food lukewarm, drinks served through a hatch and not via sealed bottles - they suffered severe gastric illness which still continues;

16. One family reported that there were rats by the pool and in the pool bar area, birds faecal element everywhere, cooked chicken was bloody, they suffered severe gastric illness - the doctor was charging between £350 to £750 for treatment - this holidaymaker refused to be examined as he wanted to examine her in front of 5 other men from the reception area;

17. One family to Egypt suffered with food undercooked, poor chef hygiene practices (one chef was seen to handle bloody meat then touch other food), flies on the food in the pool bar, sewage smells in bathroom, cracks on the balcony and they are suspected as suffering with Cryptosporidium;

18. Reports of up to 400 people suffering illness on a cruise with many people being confined to their cabins;

19. One couple reports that they saw staff at their Dominican Republic hotel, urinating and defacating behind a beach cabin which was situated in front of their balcony! There was also a ’stream’ of sewage flowing alongside the hotel to the sea. On arrival they were told at the ’welcome’ meeting that they would suffer with the ’Puerto Platter Splatters’ - they suffered with severe gastric illness and had to fly home early. They are still ill;

20, One couple’s trip to Egypt was marred by building work, diarrhoea on the public toilet walls, diarrhoea in the restaurant. They both suffered severe illness and weight loss - they are still ill!

In 2006 we carried out our own investigation into the cost of returning holiday illnesses to the UK economy. We estimated that returning holiday illnesses alone, were costing the UK economy £200m plus per annum. If this cost were transmitted across to 15 of the EU economies this would suggest that returning holiday illnesses are costing those EU economies 3.5 Billion Euros per annum! This is a cost not paid for by the travel industry, but paid by the taxpayer and British Industry!

Frank Brehany, the Senior Consumer Advocate for HolidayTravelWatch states:

“The great hope that things would improve in the latter part of the 1990’s did not materialise, as is evidenced by our list of 20 appalling holiday complaints. Holidaymakers should not consider any complaints that they may have as being ridiculous or minor - if they had a problem with a car or a fridge they purchased, they would take action - holiday products are no different! What is of concern is the lack of political or media recognition that returning illnesses cost the UK economy! Given this apparent apathy, I can only hope that the EU Commission in their new draft of the Package Travel Regulations will have the courage to deal with this EU wide scandal!”

Holidaymakers affected by any holiday complaint can contact us on 08450179229 or by e mailing us at


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