England: Travel Agent's Duty of Care

John Downes's picture

Crosby v Fleetwood Travel [2007] CLYB 2127

C booked an all-inclusive package holiday for himself and his family at Sharm El Sheikh. The day before departure there had been a terrorist attack but C was nonetheless told by the tour operator to go to the airport the next day. On arrival at the airport he was told that the flight had been cancelled and so he arranged an alternative holiday over the phone with F. He had made plain that he wanted a destination where there was an opportunity for diving and an all-inclusive holiday that was equivalent in standard and quality to that booked at Sharm El Sheikh (i.e. 4 star or higher). He was willing to pay extra for this. The original holiday had cost £3620 and he was required to pay an additional £ 1600 for the alternative holiday in Cyprus. F assured him that this alternative would meet all of his specifications.

On arrival, he discovered that they were accommodated in a three star hotel; he had to pay an additional supplement for all-inclusive provision; and the nearest diving was 15 miles away. The hotel was overcrowded and as a result the family were not able to enjoy its facilities.

F claimed that though the hotel was classed as a three star it had four star facilities. C could not reasonably expect that a 4 star in Egypt would be equivalent to a four star in Cyprus. F had been misled by its agent about the Cypriot hotel and had acted in good faith.

The court held F in breach of contract and liable for the acts and omissions of its agent. It was not a defence to claim that they had acted in good faith. Travel agents had a higher duty of care in providing information to their clients, especially in a situation where the client was totally reliant on the information that the travel agent had provided over the phone. C could not be expected to know the different standards used in allocating star ratings in Egypt and Cyprus. The travel agent should have explained this to him. C was awarded £1600 for breach of contract and £250 per person for loss of enjoyment.

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