There has been reports in the news that following the financial trouble Thomas Cook is in, some hotels have been refusing to let guests leave unless they pay additional fees. This isn't just a verbal refusal; it includes sending transfer buses away and physical restrictions such as securing the gates and having private security guards physically preventing people from leaving.

Personally, I find this quite terrifying that a business would operate in such a way with apparent impunity.

Should I find myself in a similar situation what action should I take?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 11:15

4 Answers 4


Calling the police might be the way to go in jurisdictions within developed countries, but wouldn't necessarily work in regions where governance is weak. In this case it would be better to pay the fraudulent bill using a credit card and then dispute the transaction once you're safe and sound at home. It's likely that the credit card company will take your side given that the payment was made under the threat of violence.

If the hotel insists you pay in cash and the police won't get involved, your only recourse is to sue the travel agency when you return. Although it might not get you any money back given the bankruptcy.

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    Paying with a credit card and then disputing at home was my thoughts as well and I imagine that's what a lot of the people in the article did, but I'm interested in your second paragraph, suing the travel agency? Wouldn't it be the hotel you'd have to sue? Sounds expensive though! Final thought - you definitely think paying is the way to go, no outright refusal, no fistiecuffs, no elaborate escape plan? Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 20:11
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    No contacting your embassy?
    – Mars
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 0:36
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    @Mars could be an option, but embassy employees can't do much beyond complaining to local authorities
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 0:39
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    In my head, that's at least a little more compelling for local authorities to actually do something, but I suppose it could also backfire too
    – Mars
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 0:42
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    I would add to the above, along with the definition of "places where governance is weak", that informing the consulate/embassy of your country could be helpful. Maybe not when you are a single-case, but if similar episodes start occurring often. (Update: the article said that the tourists actually called the British embassy and personnel from embassy spoke with hotel representatives) Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 7:03

Holding guests hostage is illegal, no matter what. If you are held "hostage" and they refuse to let you go you can tell them it is against the law of that country. You can also contact the police secretly or send a quick message secretly saying to get the police. You don't want to be violent as you don't want charges on yourself as well.

Contacting the police openly could result in further conflict, as the owners probably wouldn’t want you doing that.

You can get suggestions from In an emergency, how do I find and share my position? as how to find your position quickly and notify people of any emergencies.

Some counties have AML to automatically send your location:

In some countries, AML (Advanced Mobile Location) will automatically send your location to the emergency services when you call them.

Although in this case police assisted as well as mentioned in this news article, but the situation could escalate to a point where law is enforced:

“They had people by the doors, guarding the doors. Police were on the outside. The staff were manhandling some guests and fighting."

Sometimes you just have to wait it out or avoid such resorts altogether.

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    avoid such resorts altogether How do you know ahead of time which resorts will lock you in?
    – Johnny
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 0:26
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    @Johnny - Well, Les Orangers resort in Tunisia seems a safe bet as one that will! Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 9:07
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    Are you familiar with the relevant laws in all countries in the world? I'm wondering how you can make the blanket statement that it is definitely illegal everywhere.
    – nasch
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 13:51
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    @XtremeBaumer yes, private parties holding someone against their will in private property is perfectly legal in some countries. For example, in many countries if someone is caught in a business establishment or private property doing something illegal (for example murdering someone, stealing, inflicting property damage, breaking and entering, etc), the employees, security staff and/or bystanders are legally entitled to hold that person against their will until authorities arrive. Is this not the case in your country? Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 14:25
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    @XtremeBaumer if the hotel claims they did something illegal like cause property damage (or something illegal in that particular country, like being in possession of a christian Bible or speaking against the government) and the hotel staff act as witnesses, then you doubting the residents did something illegal won't count for much. It will be up to them to prove it in court in the best scenario. It's their word against the hotel's word, and the hotel has a lot more witnesses and doesn't even need to bribe the police (though they certainly could). Do you understand how this works? Will you pay? Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 14:56

In this specific situation, the CAA has provided details of what to do at https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/customers/if-you-are-currently-abroad/managing-difficulties-with-your-accommodation/

In short, they advise not to pay anything unless their team specifically advises this in your personal circumstances. Ordinarily the accommodation providers would be expected to accept the CAA's guarantee, which should be far more reliable than Thomas Cook's guarantee that the providers were previously happily accepting.

Whether the contact number provided on that page is adequately staffed is another matter of course.

In general, the advice would be to contact whoever it is that you expect to be paying the hotel on your behalf (e.g. the travel agent who made the arrangements if they're still trading, an insurance provider, or similar, or in this case the CAA), in order to clarify why the hotel isn't accepting their payment or guarantee.

The original documentation providing details of the package, guarantees, insurance, etc. would also certainly have details of relevant emergency assistance numbers, so one can best prepare for unexpected situations like these by ensuring the relevant documentation is printed off and kept to hand.


Most hotels nowadays ask for a credit card at the time of check-in for any kind of ancillary charge so such a bait and switch type scheme sounds unlikely from a reputable hotel chain.

As many have suggested, if the charges don't appear legit you can dispute them with your card company.

  • Most of the problems are for people who booked packet or all in holidays/vacations and those do not routinely get their cards scanned on arrival.
    – Willeke
    Commented Sep 28, 2019 at 12:42

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