As of the 1st July 2018 the Package Travel Directive receives updates to bring it into the 21st Century. The Directive now covers combined travel arrangements as many consumers tailor holidays to their own requirements. The widening of the package travel rules means that travellers will have more options to cancel a contract and get clear advance information on who is ultimately responsible if something goes wrong.
What's new in the Package Travel Directive?
The new rules will cover two types of contracts:
- Package deals (pre-arranged by tour organisers or customised by the traveller) and
- ‘linked travel arrangements’
Under the new rules, package holidays consist of two or more travel services - such as flights, accommodation, car hire or other tourist services such as guided tours - bought from one single trader or offered by travel agents with different traders at a total price. ‘Linked travel arrangements’ is when you book one travel service on one website and then you are then invited to book another service through a link. eg car hire booking through a flight booking website. These “click-through” bookings will be considered as part of the original package as long as the traveller’s name, payment details and email address are transferred automatically between traders within 24 hours of the original sale being concluded. In these cases, the full protection for packages will apply.
Please Note: If you have a Linked Travel Agreement you will not be afforded the same remedies as a package unless your details were automatically transferred to the second provider by the facilitator (organiser). If the facilitator (organiser) goes bust then you will have insolvency protection but if the linked provider goes bust you will not be affored any protection
What Information Must a Company Provide?
The new rules improve consumer rights when purchasing a package holiday. Prior to the concluding the Package Holiday contract, the company has to provide certain information in advance. This includes:
- The Price and Arrangements for Payment
- The need for Documents or any Health Formalities
- The need for Optional or Complusory Insurance
- Insolvency Information
You should also be advised of the companies trading name and the contact details of the package travel facilitator (organiser).
Cancelling or Amending the Package Before Travel
Sometimes things can change and you may not be able to travel due to medical reasons or something else. In this event you can:
- Cancel the contract by paying a fee or
- Under certain conditions you can transfer your package travel to another traveller
What if the Price Increases?
If the contract explicitly states that there is a posibility of the price increasing before travel you have the right to terminate the contract, and get a refund, if the price increase is more than 8% of the total agreed price.
Other Entitlements to a Refund
You may be entitled to a refund in the event that unavoidable or extraordinary circumstances that significantly affect the performace of the package or the transportation to your destination occur.
Problems After Your Holiday or When You Arrive at Your Destination
If anything was not as it was detailed in the package the facilitator (organiser) has to make the problems right. You will be entitled to:
- A Price Reduction
If the facilitator (organiser) goes bust here is what you need to know. The facilitator (organiser) is obliged to provide security for the refund of all payments made and repatriation when needed.
Coronavirus - Your Consumer Rights
The global outbreak of Covid-19 coronavirus is causing significant travel disruption across the globe. It is important, though not essential, to have travel insurance in place when booking a holiday. The Government has created a Coronavirus/Covid-19 guidance section on its website - which will be updated regularly with the latest travel advice. Currently, it has only advised against all travel to Hubei Province in China and all but essential travel to mainland China, parts of Italy and parts of South Korea, however this advice may extend to further regions soon.
If your airline or tour operator has cancelled your flight or package holiday, you should contact the organisation you booked with asking for a refund.
If you choose to cancel a trip, and your destination is one of the listed destinations, then you should receive a refund from either the airline or tour operator, depending on how it was booked.
If you are due to travel to a place where there is currently no government advice against visiting then normal cancellation charges apply and you will not necessarily be entitled to a refund.
In these situations, you should have some form of cover in your travel insurance policies, however policies may differ.
Coronavirus cases have been identified in more than 50 countries and territories, and the government currently advise against travelling to three nations. You are therefore still able to travel to the rest of the world, and if you choose to cancel, you will not legally be entitled to a refund.
Alternative Travel Arrangements
Some airlines are allowing consumers to rebook their flights even where they are not affected. It is worth checking with your airline to see what their policy is.
If You're Already Abroad
If you are currently abroad at a low-risk country without a government travel warning and choose to return home, you will not be entitled to the cost of the remainder of your holiday, or for the cost of the alternative flights. If you are already abroad in one of the listed destinations, the government may organise repatriation of all its citizens. If not, you may have to pay for the transportation and claim the cost of this from your travel insurer.
If your event is cancelled by the promoter or venue, and you bought from them directly, or via their authorised ticket sellers, you should get a refund of what you paid. You may not be entitled to a refund of booking fees, though it is worth checking with the venue. Tickets bought via third party ticket sellers are not automatically refunded where the event has been careful so we advise checking the terms and conditions when tickets are purchased. Travel arrangements made in respect of an event may not necessarily be refunded so it is advisable to check cancellation policies.
The UK International Consumer Centre strongly recommends that consumers take out Travel Insurance with provision for Coronavirus/Covid-19 as soon as a booking is made.
The coronavirus situation is changing on a daily basis so it is important to keep up to date with any developments on the government website. Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions.