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lisa james (comment)Claims push at limit of liability


ALMOST 300 holidaymakers who were stranded in Cancun by Hurricane Wilma last October have put in a mass claim for compensation against the major tour operators. They want full refunds, plus additional compensation for their loss of enjoyment.


Some are also seeking pay-outs for personal injury and posttraumatic stress – a condition not normally associated with a fortnight in the sun.


Their story has been told on ITV’s Tonight With Trevor McDonald, and a series of websites are encouraging customers to vent their anger at the travel companies they feel let them down. Some entries don’t make pleasant reading.


It’s a case that will test the Package Travel Regulations and the extent of tour operators’ liability if it goes to court. Solicitors acting for the holidaymakers say they should never have been flown out to Cancun because the companies knew Wilma was about to strike.


The operators insist they acted sensibly. While they consider their response, the number of claimants is likely to rise. Before the action was highlighted on TV last month, the claimants numbered 200. The threat of a class action appears to be gathering pace.


Sir Freddie flew high


LOTS of people in this industry would love to be able to boast that travel would not be what it is today without them.


Sir Freddie Laker, who died last week, didn’t need to boast – there were plenty of other people queuing up to do that for him, as our tribute on pages 4 and 5 shows.


Stelios read about him while studying for his degree. Richard Branson saw him as the source of the best advice he ever had. Many others fondly remember the man who took the stuffiness out of flying, and who would rather talk to his passengers than sleep on an overnight flight. Laker was a genius who had his feet on the ground. Not everyone in the industry can claim that.


Lisa James deputy editor


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