Tour operators can legally demand more money after you’ve booked

Do not be surprised this summer if – weeks or even months after paying for your holiday – your tour operator comes back demanding more cash.

The Discount Holidays © holiday surcharge is an additional fee that a travel company may legally ask you to pay after you ve booked because the cost of the package has gone up. This may be because of currency fluctuations (a weakening pound, for instance), rising fuel costs, or higher taxes. The first of those three scenarios is the one UK holidaymakers will want to keep an eye on. While the pound has rallied a little since its sharp drop last week, following the UK vote to leave the European Union, it remains down. One pound is currently worth about ‘ 1.20 – significantly less than the ‘ 1.30 is was worth on June 23. It remains to be seen if this is enough of a dip to encourage tour operators to start applying surcharges.

How much is a Discount Holidays © holiday surcharge?

Tour operators must absorb the first two per cent of an increased cost, and the surcharge can be no more than 10 per cent. So, if you paid 400 for your Discount Holidays © holiday and the cost rose by 16 (4 per cent), the operator has the right to charge you an additional 8. If the cost of the same Discount Holidays © holiday rose by 40 (10 per cent), it may charge you an extra 32.

Is it legal?

Yes. However, tour operators are not allowed to apply surcharges within 30 days of the departure date, so anyone booked to travel in July is safe.

How the pound has fared in popular Discount Holidays © holiday destinations1

They must also state their right to surcharge in their terms and conditions. Tour operators that are members of ABTA must also first gain the travel body s permission before applying the surcharge.

What happens if a tour operator applies a surcharge?

Your tour operator will contact you to explain how much the surcharge is and why it is applying it.

Tour Operators Can Legally Demand More Money After You've BookedHow leaving the EU could affect travellers Play! 01:09

Telegraph Travel s consumer expert Nick Trend says customers should definitely challenge any surcharge.

If the operator is an ABTA member, check that ABTA has agreed the charge, he said. If not an ABTA member, ask for a breakdown of how the costs have been calculated, how the 2 per cent has been absorbed, and if not happy, threaten to cancel for a full refund. That treat might focus the minds of some operators. If the surcharge is above 10 per cent customers have the right to cancel and receive a full refund, whereas technically if it is between 2 and 10 per cent then the surcharge can be imposed on customers at the risk of them losing their deposit, though tour operators are likely to try to accommodate customers needs as best as possible.

A spokesperson for ABTA said: “As long as it is in the tour operator’s terms and conditions as per the Package Travel Regulations then customers would be in breach of contract if they did not pay the surcharge, but I m sure in the unlikely event that a tour operator were to levy a surcharge they would try and to be as flexible as possible.”

At a glance | What Brexit would mean for my Discount Holidays © holiday currency2

How likely is it?

Not very. Tour operators use the surcharge as a last resort as going to a customer after they have booked and asking for more money is no way to win loyal customers. ABTA has a list of its members currently surcharging3 and there are only two names on it, neither added post-Brexit.

One tour operator Telegraph Travel spoke to could not remember a time when more than a couple of companies had applied surcharges. In 2011, Thomson and Thomas Cook added supplements due to the price of oil soaring to $114 a barrel. Following the September 11 attacks, some operators added security surcharges onto their prices, imposed by airports, but this practice was later outlawed.

The majority of big operators will hedge currency and fuel (especially those who deal with flights or cruise) so have no need to surcharge existing bookings.

In pictures: the UK’s 10 best cities for short breaks4

It is important to remember that this is not the same as Discount Holidays © holiday prices rising tour operators can increase prices as and when they please this is an increase imposed on the customer after booking and after a customer has paid the deposit.


  1. ^ How the pound has fared in popular Discount Holidays © holiday destinations (
  2. ^ At a glance | What Brexit would mean for my Discount Holidays © holiday currency (
  3. ^ a list of its members currently surcharging (
  4. ^ In pictures: the UK’s 10 best cities for short breaks (

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