Travel is fun. But sometimes things go wrong.
Often it’s the simple slip-ups that leave us running around like headless chickens one hour before we’re due to fly; stuffing random items into our suitcases, frantically searching for tickets and passports while running out of the door convinced we’ve left something important behind.
But no matter how last-minute the panic or scatty the situation, there is always a solution – always. Instead of going to pieces, keep your cool and take our advice on what to do ‘if’ things should go wrong…
1. Passport Problems
There are several scenarios that can occur with passports. You suddenly realise that it’s expired; you lose it, or you’re en route to the airport when you realise your passport is back home on the kitchen table.
Apart from having one in your hand that hasn’t expired, this is the most favourable of the three situations as it is possible to apply for the Premium Passport Service that lets you pick up a new passport the same day. Your application must be in before 11am and is usually ready to collect by 4pm.
Firstly, breathe and relax. Think of all the places you might have put it, search them thoroughly and don’t forget jackets and bags and behind drawers! If it really has gone, then you will need to apply for a replacement. The quickest you can get one is a week with the Fast Track Service. This costs £112.50 through your local post office.
Left it on the kitchen table
If you can, get someone to pick it up and meet you at the terminal. You may be able to check in without a passport if you’re flying domestically. Once your friend or relative arrives you can run for your flight. Always keep a photocopy of your passport with you as it is handy for exactly this kind of scenario or if you lose your passport abroad.
2. You’re going to miss your flight
Whether you overslept, got caught in traffic, or just forgot what time you were flying, if you know you’re going to be late, phone the airport and tell them. You have more chance of being accommodated if they know you’re on your way. If you have to check in and think the queue may cause you to miss your flight, then tell a member of staff immediately – they should help you fast track to the front.
If you’re late for boarding, some airlines will let the pilot decide whether to let you on. Some merciful carriers, will advise passengers to proceed to the gate even if it’s closed, while easyJet’s motto is ‘if you’re late, we won’t wait’.
If you miss your flight completely you may be offered a credit note or transfer to another flight so go to the customer service desk ASAP and find out your options. Remember to smile and be nice!
Next time? Plan for everything; leave 30 minutes earlier than normal, arrange backup transport, check traffic reports and get a louder alarm clock!
3. Lost Luggage: you arrive but your bags don’t
You’ve watched the baggage carousel deposit everyone’s bag but yours. Firstly, report your lost luggage to an airline representative as soon as possible. Make sure you get a ‘Property Irregularity Report’ saying your bag’s been lost so you can claim on insurance later. Very few bags are lost completely – most are just delayed. Speak to the airline at the airport first and see if they will give you compensation to buy essentials.
You’ll be asked for a description of the bag and distinctive contents so keep calm and explain your immediate needs. Keep receipts for any essentials you purchase and submit them to the airline’s Customer Care department with copies of your travel documents. If your baggage is truly lost, never to be seen again, you will soon learn that the airlines have strict liability limits and may not offer the full value of your missing items.
Next time? Find out the baggage liability in advance and purchase additional insurance. Make a list of what’s in your luggage and keep it with you at all times. For more advice take a look at our article on Lost Luggage and what to do about it.
4. Your hotel isn’t quite as described
If you find your accommodation appears to be more of a building site than the luxury hotel you booked, you must contact a company representative immediately and complain to them directly so they have the opportunity to put the problem right. Take photos of the issues and make written notes so that even if it’s not resolved on site you can write to the company directly or ABTA and make a claim for reimbursement.
Read our article on how to complain on holiday for more tips.
5. What to do if you lose items abroad
Whether you leave your bag in a café after a few spritzers or happen to fall victim to a pickpocket, it is important to report any lost or stolen items to the police first and foremost. This will ensure you get a crime report that you can later use when claiming on your insurance.
If you lose your credit cards, report it to your bank as soon as possible. They can place a temporary block on your cards, giving you time to look for them if they’re lost. All bank contact numbers can be found online but take a note of them with you just in case.
If you lose your passport, contact the British Embassy and report it. Taking photocopies of your passport will help enormously (scan your pass port and email it to yourself so you can always access it). For information on UK Foreign and Commonwealth offices abroad check out the Foreign Office website