✉ I booked 14 days’ car hire with Hertz for August. However, British Airways (BA) cancelled my outbound flight and booked me on one a day later. I tried to reduce the car rental by a day, but was told that it would cost an extra £384. I’ve tried to speak to BA to ask for reimbursement, but its call centre has extended waiting times and its Twitter help appears to be a bot. My travel insurance won’t cover me in this situation. I’ve now rebooked, but it seems unfair that I’ve had to pay nearly £400 more through no fault of my own. Any suggestions?
Flight cancellations are causing havoc for travellers, but I’m afraid you wouldn’t have any joy from BA even if you could get through to it; in this situation airlines are not responsible for “consequential loss”. Your only hope was some goodwill from Hertz, but it will not budge. “To offer our customers competitive rates and to manage our fleet we have minimum and maximum day rental rates in place,” it said. “This means that the longer a customer rents a vehicle for, the lower the daily rate will be. However, this only applies when customers keep the vehicle for the intended rental length, and this is clearly outlined in our terms and conditions, which are available on our website and by scanning QR codes at our rental locations.” Your only option is to cancel your rental booking, if you can do so without charge, and look for a better deal on your new dates — the UK broker Zest Car Rental is a good place to start (zestcarrental.com).
New Orleans street cars
✉ I’m planning a trip to Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans next year with a budget of about £2,000 for flights and accommodation. Can you recommend a package and the best time of year to go?
You can get a taste of America’s Deep South on the eight-night Nashville, New Orleans & Elvis Presley’s Memphis coach tour from Leger Holidays. It has lots of optional excursions, including a tour of Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum and Sun Studio, stuffed with memorabilia. There are departures in spring and autumn, which are the best seasons for a tour. Travel in October and it will cost £2,568, including flights, three-star hotels and a single supplement (leger.co.uk).
The Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow
✉ My husband and I would like to celebrate our wedding anniversary in October by spending a few nights in Glasgow. The plan is to visit the Burrell Collection and the Kelvingrove museum, and have a couple of good evening meals. We’re struggling to find a boutique-style hotel convenient for the Kelvingrove area and public transport (we prefer to travel by train). Our budget is up to £250 a night. Do you have any tips?
Try Boutique 50, a stylish Victorian townhouse in the middle of the West End of Glasgow and a few minutes’ walk from the Kelvingrove museum. It opened last summer and has mid-century decor and furnishings, as well as nice touches such as record players in each room (you can borrow a box of vinyl), plus e-bikes to rent. Choose the luxury room (B&B from £170) if you want a freestanding bath near the bed, or a superior king if you’d rather a walk-in shower (B&B from £145; boutique50.co.uk). There are some brilliant nearby restaurants, including Unalome by Graeme Cheevers, which got its first Michelin star this year, and Ox and Finch for quirky tapas. You’d be right next to the foodie Finnieston area, which is also home to whisky bars such as the Ben Nevis, which has traditional music three nights a week and is a great place to toast your anniversary.
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✉ My daughter will be 14 when we travel to Portugal in October, and we had understood that fully vaccinated passengers could travel without the need for a Covid test. She has received two vaccinations, but the most recent was in January, so — because the rules state that unless the passenger has had a booster the second vaccine must have been within 270 days of travel — her fully vaccinated status will have expired before our trip. I assume that she will therefore need proof of a negative test result, but the Portuguese authorities insist on a medically supervised test that would mean us having to leave a day early to attend a centre more than 60 miles away. Our travel agent thought that our daughter would be considered fully vaccinated (as she is ineligible for a booster because of her age), but I’ve seen no evidence of this. Can you help?
It may feel as though travel is back to normal in restriction-free Britain, but there are still plenty of countries with testing requirements (having those documents checked is adding to the airport chaos) and it continues to be tricky to clarify the rules for young teenagers. In the UK, boosters are available to children aged 12 to 15 only if they are considered “at risk”, but Visit Portugal confirmed that your daughter would not be allowed entry without one, so she would have to take a test to join you on holiday. But it’s not all bad news — you are flying from Newcastle airport and she can get a supervised antigen test there for £39; the result should be ready within an hour (nph-group.co.uk). Of course the rules could change again before October, so keep your fingers crossed.
✉ I used Booking.com for a four-day stay in Sitges in Spain for my birthday. We arrived at the hotel to find the front doors locked and a sign giving a number to contact via WhatsApp. This was no good to me because I didn’t have internet access on my phone, so I went to a nearby café, where the staff tried to help by calling the number several times. There was no answer. I couldn’t reach Booking.com either, so eventually we had to check into another hotel at further expense. On our return Booking.com told me that I could have a full refund, but instead the buck is now being passed between the hotel and Booking.com, which has since informed me that I didn’t follow its cancellation policy. Can you help?
What a miserable start to a holiday. And to add insult to injury, the entry code to the hotel had been sent to you by post but didn’t arrive until after your return. Booking.com has agreed to give your money back. “We were sorry to hear of the customer’s experience and will be working with the property owner to ensure their communication around the check-in process improves,” it said. “We have apologised to the customer and will be providing a full refund, as well as a goodwill gesture for the disruption to their holiday.”
If you have a gripe, suggestion or question relating to your holidays, please email [email protected]