Disability, travel

Disabled Traveller turned away by First Choice for a spontaneous holiday, because of their 28-day booking requirement for accessible rooms (even when there’s availability).

Being stuck at home for the past six months could put a strain on any relationship.

A difference with this one is that I am disabled and require more assistance than most people.

As a thank you to my wife for the difficult times I thought it would be a nice surprise to take my her to Jamaica next week.

This was going to be an all-inclusive holiday sitting on the beach for two weeks and bringing back a lifetime of memories.

So going onto TUI and First Choice websites (as they’re the same company) I thought Montego Bay looked lovely. All-inclusive in a five star luxury hotel, I was excited and so I jumped at the chance to get it booked.

I call First Choice they were very nice and professional. I tell them I want to go on holiday next week flying from Birmingham on Saturday, the 25th of October to Montego Bay.

The travel agent said: ‘Yes absolutely we can book this for you Mr Sansome’.

Then I advise them that I need an accessible room and the first reply was, ‘oh we need to get this processed’. I asked what you mean by processed and she said normally it takes 28 days to book an accessible room in a hotel.

As you can imagine my reply was not very professional due to the fact that I want to travel to Jamaica next Saturday.

I asked if I could call the hotel directly and book an accessible room knowing that I’m going to be booking with yourselves. First Choice said they would call the hotel on my behalf.

So half an hour later First Choice came back to me after speaking to the hotel in Montego Bay and they say what’s on the booking is what you get.

I am left with the following choices:

1)I book the hotel, hoping I get and accessible room. (But can’t be guaranteed) by TUI and First Choice and risk arriving at a totally unsuitable and inaccessible room

2 I don’t travel on holiday as apparently disabled people can’t be spontaneous.

3 I book directly with the hotel and book a separate flight (which may not offer the same level of protection as a package holiday)

4 I book the holiday hoping for an accessible room and if they can’t find me one, I’ll still be charged.

Oh, to rub salt into the wound, the hotel has accessible rooms available we want to book.

What’s is more concerning about the above is I was advised that if I book the holiday as a standard booking they will do their best to try and book me an accessible room but if one is not available they will still charge me for the booking even though I can’t access the room.

I advised First Choice I can not book this holiday, even through we want to go and they have availability it is their booking policy and process through their welfare team (which is the part that takes up to 28 days) that is stopping us from going.

Now I can book a flight and hotel separately however if you book with TUI or First Choice you have ATOL protection which is a lot better than just an insurance company and being disabled I need all the cover I can get.

What is appears to be is another example of how holiday and travel organisations are not prepared or able to book accessible accommodation you need, and these deals are only suitable for fully abled people.

I want to be spontaneous and want to go on holiday to get away from things, if you are a person without a disability you could actually go travelling tomorrow but if you are in a wheelchair and want a little spontaneity it will take 28 days which seems extremely unfair.

First Choice have just missed from having a new customer, when they have the availability and a customer who wants to travel and have an exciting time.

Now I’m going to be staying at home dreaming of a holiday I wish I could have had with my wife and now can’t and will be at home binge watching Grey’s Anatomy instead, bring on season three.

1 thought on “Disabled Traveller turned away by First Choice for a spontaneous holiday, because of their 28-day booking requirement for accessible rooms (even when there’s availability).”

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