Cheshire woman loses £1,000 after friend’s heart attack forces them to cancel holiday

Joanne Walsh and Janet Henshaw were initially told by Hays Travel that they could rebook their flights for the following year

Two friends from Cheshire have lost more than £1,000 after one of them suffered a heart attack just three weeks before they were due to fly to Thailand. Joanne Walsh and Janet Henshaw were set to go on holiday in March this year for a getaway after Janet retired.

The pair paid out around £3,500 between them for the trip. But just weeks before they were due to jet off to South East Asia, Janet suffered a heart attack on February 17. Now they have lost a large sum of the money due to having to cancel the holiday.

Joanne, from Macclesfield, and Janet, from Bollington, booked the trip at the Hays Travel branch in Macclesfield. And the pair have been left disappointed with the travel agency after they were initially told they could rebook their flights for next year.

Speaking to CheshireLive, Joanne Walsh claims she visited the travel agent the next day and was told ‘not to worry’. But the 54-year-old says she received a phone call the following day that informed them that it would not be possible.

She said: “The day Janet suffered the heart attack she went into Hays Travel beforehand and tried to book our seats for the plane but we was told we couldn’t do that yet. Then she came round to see me and suffered the heart attack at my house.

“Then I went in the next day to let them know we wouldn’t be able to go as she was very poorly. We were told not to worry about it and that they’d rebook the holiday for next year.

“But the next day, we got a phone call from them and they said they cannot do that (rebook) as there’s only three weeks until the holiday and the seats have already been ticketed. Yet, Janet went there the day before and we couldn’t book our seats.

Joanne says she has lost a total of £1,050 due to not being covered by insurance. But Janet has managed to claim over £2,000 back due to being covered by her Halifax bank account.

“I didn’t even think about insurance for then. I usually get my insurance the week before I travel away but we were told we would have to claim on the insurance,” Joanne said.

“Janet has had to claim back over £2,000 through the travel insurance on her bank card. Janet suffered a heart attack and they wouldn’t do anything for us, it was so unhelpful. We just wanted the holiday moving forward as we couldn’t do anything else.

“She’s recovering well and resting at home but she can’t work or drive. The whole thing has put her through an awful lot of stress that she didn’t need.”

Janet underwent bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack in February. She says the chest pain suddenly hit her when she was having a cup of tea at Joanne’s house.

The 62-year-old said: “I did my last day of full-time work on the Tuesday (February 14) and I called in to try and book the seats. It was too soon so I went over to see Joanne.

“We were sat having a brew and a giggle then I got up and that’s when the chest pain hit. To cut a long story short, Joanne called the ambulance and I was blue lighted to Wythenshawe.”

Janet feels that Hays Travel should have ‘acted straight away’ and that the company ‘weren’t helpful’ considering her circumstances.

“They told Jo that we could rebook and reschedule for next year so of course, we were happy to do that and that’s why we didn’t push anymore at the time,” she said.

“We tried doing something about getting the money back. It was like we only had two choices, which was to cancel or get the hotel money back.

“I was poorly and in hospital, in the end I had to go in myself because I needed the paperwork to claim my money back through the insurance.

“They just weren’t very helpful at all and didn’t point us in the right direction. I lost £200 but I got the rest of the money back as I’m on the Ultimate Reward Halifax account. I just didn’t feel like they were there for us at all.

“I just feel they should’ve acted straight away for us and I know what they did was right, but it wasn’t the right timing.”

Hays Travel told Cheshire Live that they initially told the friends ‘in good faith’ that they could rebook their flights. But the company state it wasn’t possible due to their specific booking terms and conditions.

A spokesperson for Hays Travel said: “We were very sorry to hear of Janet’s illness on February 17, 2022 and we immediately worked with her and Jo to find the best options in the circumstances.

“Initially we relayed in good faith the message from the operator that we could rebook the flights, but within the day it transpired this would not be possible under their specific booking terms and conditions. We advised the following day (February 18) that the best option in cases like this, where someone is ill and unable to travel, was to make a claim through their travel insurance.

“We provided the documents required for a claim under the customer’s own worldwide annual travel insurance on March 12, 2022. We haven’t heard any further but we are always here to help in any way we can.”

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