Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Is this package holiday site too good to be true?

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The Independent Travel

Q Could you confirm if the website is a reputable site to use for cheap holiday packages? It appears too good to be true. For example, we have been quoted £189 for a flight and apartment in the Canaries in January.

Pete and Sue Smith, Hull

A is reputable: it is part of Hays Travel Ltd, and as such has rock-solid backing. Furthermore, unlike some online travel agents, it does not add hidden fees such as percentage charges for using a debit card.

However - and this is crucial in terms of your consumer rights -, and its associated website,, do not offer package holidays. If they did, they would be liable for every element of your holiday. But instead they say, for example: “We accept no responsibility for the provision of the accommodation by the Principal”. The “Principal” is the firm, usually an unrelated “bed bank”, through whom the room is booked. “Our responsibilities are limited to making the booking in line with your instructions,” says

This “hands-off” approach enables companies such as to offer very attractive prices - such as £189 per person for a week in the Canaries. But don't overlook traditional tour operators from your search; right now, Thomas Cook is offering self-catering deals to the Canaries for as little as £149 for a week.

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