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Non-existent flights and hotels next to rubbish dumps are among a marked increased in travel woes reported to Citizens Advice over the last year.

The consumer charity handled a 9% increase in reported problems with holidays and travel in the year to March, helping with 9,400 problems with package deals, flights and travel insurance.

There was also an 8% increase in people seeking online help, with advice on solving holiday problems viewed 152,000 times over the same 12 months, up from 141,000 the year before.

Problems around holiday firms’ breach of contract increased by 35%, including issues around substandard accommodation, non-existent flights and tour operators swapping people’s holidays without offering them a chance to cancel.

One traveller contacted Citizens Advice after her hotel in the centre of Corfu was swapped for one more than 40km away, leaving the family to make the 80km round trip to visit tourist attractions at their own expense.

Another called the charity while still on holiday after finding that the flight back from Benidorm had never existed and the next one was four days later. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Thousands of people’s dream holidays have turned into a nightmare.

“Failures by travel companies and airlines mean people have ended up without a flight or transfer to their destination and stuck in hotels that are unfit to sleep in.

“If you’ve booked a package holiday you should either get what you’ve agreed to or be told in advance if the arrangements need to change.

“If your holiday is downgraded without warning or it isn’t up to scratch, complain straight away to try to get your problem solved.

“You can also contact Citizens Advice online, over the phone or face to face to get the help you need to understand your rights and reach a resolution.”

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