Flights are being cancelled from all over the UK to many European holiday hotspots due to staff shortages. Whilst many holidaymakers are planning staycations or rescheduling, those who have timeshare memberships in Spain and Europe can’t enjoy that same flexibility.
UK holidaymakers have had a terrible time recently with 159 flights cancelled over one weekend just at Gatwick Airport.
The airline that was worst hit was EasyJet, which cancelled 80 of its scheduled flights which were due to take off on a Sunday this month (June 2022). It blamed this on the challenging operating environment.
It brings back memories of the 1987 film ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ where actor Steve Martin plays a man who has to make his way home for Christmas. Only this time, there are thousands of people stuck abroad who want to find ways to get home.
One couple ended up taking matters into their own hands by hiring a car in Berlin after their EasyJet flight was cancelled and driving 850 miles back to Staffordshire. Two teachers took three buses and travelled for 12 hours to get back home from Croatia.
Who is to blame? The government is placing the blame with the airline industry, and the airlines are returning the blame to the government.
One thing is certain: Things are not looking good going into the summer with massive staff shortages, airport power outages and delays in European air traffic control.
The consensus is that people are saying they don’t want to book holidays overseas because they don’t want to risk having their holidays cancelled on them right at the last minute.
Going on holiday involves a lot more than going to the airport and hopping on a plane. There are transfers, car hire, accommodation, pet care, time off work and more to arrange.
Those who have not already booked a holiday abroad, or who want to cancel to avoid the uncertainty, can look at a staycation instead. There are lots of options to stay in a British hotel, go camping, enjoy a canal holiday or try something else.
Those people who want to cancel a holiday are usually treated fairly by travel firms, which will often provide full refunds if they need to cancel.
Non-timeshare members who book holidays at timeshare resorts via sites like Booking.com might be able to cancel and get a partial refund at least.
But as Andrew Cooper, the CEO of European Consumer Claims, says: “The group most likely to suffer are timeshare owners. As we saw during the pandemic, timeshare resorts will charge annual fees in full whether the clients are able to use their holidays or not.”
“The sad truth is that this once ground-breaking holiday system is too inflexible for the challenges of the modern traveller. As a timeshare owner you are expected to plan up to 2 years ahead in order to book your accommodation. Today’s holidaymaker expects more leeway than that. They are used to knowing when they have time off, and deciding to go next week to Portugal, or Florida or anywhere else they feel like. Or maybe people have their own business and know that they will be able to get a holiday ‘sometime early summer’ but don’t know exactly when.
“Timeshare resorts tell prospective clients that they can exchange to different times and locations, but in reality, those systems don’t work. There are expensive annual fees to be a member of an exchange system, and there are even more costs to actually make an exchange or bank a week. You can’t bank a week at the last minute (for example if EasyJet cancels your flight when you reach the airport.)
“Add to that the fact that cash strapped resorts are unforgiving. Unlike regular hotels they can’t afford to refund the money that members must pay every year in order to use their accommodation. This has resulted in many members paying for a holiday they couldn’t take in both 2020 and 2021. Now those members stand a decent chance of having the same thing happen to them again in 2022. That’s three years paying for something you didn’t get.
“The timeshare industry’s stance is that this is an unusual set of events, and they are not to blame. But that is really the point. The world is an uncertain place, and when unforeseen events mean a holiday is cancelled, timeshare just isn’t flexible enough to accommodate people’s needs. The resort is guaranteed their money, but the customer is not guaranteed what they paid for.”