How cheap is too cheap? We’ve compiled some top tips to avoid holiday booking fraud
With lots of lovely cut-price travel deals expected to drop in time for Black Friday, it’s important to know that you are getting a genuine deal and not being scammed.
Everyone loves to bag a bargain and whether you are looking for a new air fryer, a cuddly new oodie or two weeks on the Costa Brava, Black Friday is the perfect time to get more for your money online. With hundreds of retailers and holiday companies fighting for our attention, some deals may drop so low they might look too good to be true.
While accredited travel operators such as Tui, Jet2, First Choice, Thomas Cook, Love Holidays and many more will just be giving out great deals to savvy travellers, some may not be quite so genuine.
READ MORE: The best lightweight luggage to look out for in the Black Friday sales
In a world where many of even our most expensive transactions are undertaken on faceless websites, we’ve compiled some top tips to help you steer clear of scammers this Black Friday.
The most common types of booking fraud are:
- Holiday Accommodation: Holidaymakers are conned by scammers setting up fake websites, hacking into legitimate accounts and posting fake adverts on websites and social media.
- Airline tickets: Customers believe they are booking a flight but are sent fake tickets or pays for a ticket that never turns up.
Before you hand over your hard-earned money on Black Friday, make sure you consider the following:
Is the website legitimate?
While it’s easy to be lured by pretty pictures of tropical beaches and high-class hotels, anyone could post them on a website and charge you to go there.
Before you part with a single penny, do your research to ensure that the website is safe and legitimate. Many scammers make their fraudulent websites look so similar to big-name brands that you wouldn’t even notice at first glance.
Ensure that the spelling is correct and that the domain names haven’t been changed – such as going from co.uk to .org or other tell-tale giveaways. You should also check that there is an address and a working phone number as a lack of contact details could indicate a scam.
Read the reviews
Some companies pay people to write online reviews for them so never assume that lots of great feedback means any website is a safe bet. By asking Google to bring up reviews from across the internet you will be able to see more measured opinions and read about other people’s experiences.
You could also look the company up on Facebook, Twitter (X) and Instagram as people who have negative feelings towards the company are more likely to vent their frustrations on social media.
Look out for the ABTA or ATOL logo
Check to see that the company is ABTA or ATOL-protected before you book to ensure that you will be protected financially should anything happen.
According to the Money Saving Expert website “with ATOL, you can check it’s legitimate by finding the reference number on it – this is usually four to five digits long and it may include a ‘T’ at the start – and then inserting this or the name of the travel company into the free ATOL database. Make sure you get an ATOL certificate when you book a protected trip.
“The process is the same for ABTA as it is for ATOL, so you just need to input the five-digit reference number or the company’s name into the ABTA database.”
Protect how you pay
The safest way to pay for a holiday is by using a debit or credit card as they offer their own forms of protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Any company that asks for a payment to be made directly into a bank account or by a wire transfer could very likely be a scam.
Remember, if it a holiday deal looks too good to be true it probably is, even during the Black Friday madness.
What to do if you do get scammed
If you’ve been liaising with a company or individual and you think you may have been scammed, stop communications immediately.
You should then:
- Call your bank and stop any payments that are scheduled to be made or cancel any direct debits or standing orders
- Report the scam to the police through the Action Fraud phone line on 0300 123 2040, or report it anonymously on the Action Fraud website.
- You could also contact Citizens Advice Scams Action via the Citizens Advice website, or call its Scams Action helpline on 0808 250 5050.
What are the best travel deals you can expect to see for Black Friday 2023?
While we wait for the big names in UK travel to unveil their best prices for 2023, we’ve been looking back at the legitimate deals and who was offering what in 2022.
Thomas Cook – Travel giant Thomas Cook has traditionally always offered discounts across the range on Black Friday. Previously they have sliced up to 20% off some of their best-selling hotels, with family favourites like Turkey and Greece seeing favourable savings.
TUI – Last year the award-winning travel agent broke out some impressive discounts on selected holidays. From exotic long-haul adventures to family friends spots in Europe and beyond, TUI offered up to £200 pounds off selected bookings and up to £150 per person in rewards. There were also discounts of up to £30 per person on short and mid-haul flights and £50 per person on long-haul flights.
Virgin Atlantic – Offering package deals to some of the world’s top destinations including Orlando, New York, LA and the Caribbean, Virgin Atlantic gave passengers £20 off economy and premium seats and £100 on upper-class flights in their last Black Friday deals. People were also able to save up to 10% off a package holiday with Virgin Atlantic Holidays.
EasyJet – The budget airline already offers cheap-as-chips getaways to over 50 destinations including Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and many more. Last year, EasyJet almost broke the internet by offering over 60,000 seats under £25. Travellers were also able to book their flights, hotels and car hire separately with savings available for a limited period during the Black Friday sale.
Jet2 – Budget airline Jet2 had lots of different deals to choose from in 2022, offering between 5 to 50% off accommodation and cut-price holidays to a huge range of holiday hot spots. Deposits started from as little as £60 per person.
British Airways – Travelling in style with the UK flag carrier could become more affordable this Black Friday with selected flights starting from as little as £35 one way. Last year British Airways lured sunseekers with up to £300 off worldwide holidays, city breaks from £129 per person and deposits starting from as little as £25. Bookings made in the Black Friday sale were also able to qualify for the long-running DOUBLE BA tier points offer, subject to terms and conditions.
Ryanair – 2022 saw the budget airline offer a “buy one, get one half price” deal on selected European flights. Already offering low-cost seats to a wide range of destinations, this saw prices slashed on ticket prices, with passengers clambering to take part in the limited-time Ryanair deal.
Wizz Air – As another low-cost flight provider, Wizz Air fought off the competition by offering different Black Friday deals every day for a week in 2022. Travellers were able to take advantage of discounts on over 3 million seats, flying to various destinations including Tenerife, Rome and Portugal.
LoveHolidays – Online travel agent LoveHolidays offered discounts in the form of 15% off selected hotels and holidays last year, with £25 deposits and flexible payment options remaining attractive for holidaymakers wanting to book in advance.
Eurostar – The intercontinental rail service Eurostar runs flash deals throughout the year. Last year saw tickets to Paris and Lille for as little as £39, with further deals on sightseeing tours and other holiday add-ons.
Wowcher – Deal site Wowcher offers a wide range of cheap city breaks, holidays and mystery travel deals. Already great value for money, they traditionally slash prices during Black Friday, with mystery weekend breaks starting for as little as £99 per person.
Wherever you are looking to book, here’s hoping that prices are even lower for 2023.