ABTA’s complaints process

If you haven’t already done so, please read our information on complaints we can and can't help with.

This will give you some tips on what to include and gives you a breakdown on what you need to do before registering your complaint with us, and complaints that we can and can't help with, because unfortunately, in some cases we might not be able to help.

Before you make a complaint also take a look at our frequently asked questions, you’ll find a wealth of information which might help you.

The following information breaks down how we can help you, and what our role in the complaints process is. This is our Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Please see our information on complaints we can and can’t help you with before proceeding.

The ABTA Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service

As a general overview, the following six-step process is what happens when you register your complaint with us. Some cases may vary if they’re complex.

ABTA’s dispute resolution service is designed to bring you and the ABTA Member together. You’re in control; we ensure that the ABTA Member responds to you but you decide whether to settle the complaint or withdraw your case at no cost and you don’t need legal representation. ABTA doesn’t award compensation to you, or decide on your case.

It’s an online process and we’ll communicate with you through our website, email and SMS text message. If you can’t use the online system you will receive replies via the post, but the process is the same. We don’t accept complaints over the phone (although we do give advice).

The ABTA process is free for steps 1-5. It doesn’t produce a binding result, but complainants have the option to go on to a next stage that does (stage 6) and at this point there would be a fee.  

On average, steps 1-5 can take up to 50 calendar days to conclude (if not a lot sooner) and is dependent on the information documents supplied and whether we require more information.

  1. Before you start you must first have been through your travel company’s in-house complaint procedure.
  2. You register your complaint, giving us all your supporting evidence, but be specific and concise in what you’re complaining about, and what you would consider a reasonable resolution. Until we have all the information and documents required we’re unable to ‘start’ the process.
  3. We will acknowledge your complaint and issue you with a case reference number; which is emailed and sent via an SMS text message to you. 
  4. We will review the case and give advice. Should you need to contact ABTA please reply within seven calendar days.
  5. Depending on the advice we may need to contact the company and ask for their comments, giving them 14 days in which to respond.
  6. Once we’ve received their comments we’ll forward you a copy of their reply. If you and the company reach agreement then you can close the case.
  7. If the company doesn’t respond within 14 calendar days or you’re unable to reach an agreement then you can proceed to arbitration. This is done via your online account that you set up when you registered your complaint. Please note, there is a cost involved in arbitration.

At each step you will have access to your case and will be kept up to date with its progress via your own online account or via the post.