A GRANDMOTHER has warned other travellers of the high price they might pay for changing their plans.
Sheena Reah was charged £500 in administration costs when she swapped her family’s holiday to another destination.
Mrs Reah, 48, from Cleadon, booked a holiday to Egypt with Thomas Cook – planning to spend next Christmas in Sharm El Sheikh with her husband, Kevin, daughter, Sophie and her partner, Paul Wilson, as well as her two-year-old grandson, Jake Wilson.
But after reading about fighting and deaths in the country, Mrs Reah, who works in learning support at Whitburn Academy, decided she didn’t feel safe and visited Hays Travel, in Sunderland, to swap her holiday – deciding to stay with Thomas Cook, but travel to Lanzarote instead.
However, she says she is disgusted at being billed £500 for “someone to click a few buttons”.
She said: “The girl in Hays Travel was really helpful and I can’t fault her but she said I would have to wait for the Government to issue a travel warning or make it Egypt a ‘no go zone’ before I could get my deposit back. We go away as a family every Christmas and I didn’t want us to miss out.
“I was expecting there to be an admin fee, but not £500. It’s disgusting that they’re charging that for someone to push a few buttons.
“I’ve paid it now but want to warn other people about this astronomical charge.”
Thomas Cook say they would never knowingly offer holidays in destinations where people’s safety may be compromised and that all changes to bookings are subject to an amendment charge.
Mrs Reah added: “We basically had a choice of paying the £500 admin fee, losing our £1,000 deposit or travelling to somewhere we don’t feel safe going.
“I think it’s just scandalous.”
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “Thomas Cook has a duty of care towards all its customers, and we would never knowingly offer holidays in destinations where we felt their safety might be compromised.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation in Egypt, working in close collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
“Although the FCO currently has some restrictions in place for travel to certain parts of Egypt, these lie many miles from the resorts we operate. Our experienced teams on the ground inform us that the resorts to which we travel are operating as normal and that our customers are continuing to enjoy their holidays. Our holiday and flight programmes are operating as normal and normal booking conditions apply.
“Thomas Cook can confirm that it amended Ms Reah’s holiday to Egypt to an alternative in Lanzarote at the customer’s request. As is standard across the travel industry, changes made to a booking at the request of a customer are subject to amendment charges. Accordingly, the changes requested by Ms Reah were subject to standard booking conditions and a fee was incurred, as outlined in our terms and conditions
“Our customers’ welfare is our primary concern, and any developments in travel advice to Egypt will be communicated to them as a priority.”