As the revised package travel legislation enters its second year, the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) is urging holidaymakers to check if their booking is a package, to gather evidence if things go wrong and if necessary to make a complaint to the travel organiser.
The advice comes as the Government confirms that it is conducting a review of the implementation of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations which have applied across the EU since 1 July (2018).
The regulations mean that package holidays when bought online for an all-in price or through linked webpages get the same protection as packages bought in travel agencies. A package holiday would consist of a flight, hotel, car-hire or other tourist service.
The widening of the package travel rules also means that travellers have more options to cancel a contract and should get clear advance information on who is ultimately responsible if something goes wrong.
But complaints about package holidays over the past year from UK consumers to the UK European Consumer Centre show that there is still a lot of uncertainty about what to do when things go wrong or even what type of booking consumers have.
Andy Allen, UK ECC Director, said: “The way consumers book their holidays has changed drastically in recent years. We’ve gone from nearly always booking through our local travel agent to going online, looking for deals and preferring the flexibility of booking the various elements ourselves.
“We would advise holidaymakers to check the terms and conditions of their holiday thoroughly and to see if their booking is a package holiday. If there is something wrong, for example if the accommodation is sub-standard, then gather evidence by taking photos. You should also contact the travel organizer as soon as possible giving them the opportunity to rectify the problem. When you return home, follow this up by submitting a formal complaint to the travel organiser within 28 days.”
The rules were introduced to give stronger protection to consumers who book pre-arranged package holidays. They were designed to bring consumer protection for holidays up to date with developments in the travel market.
The move was an important step in giving more protection to holidaymakers who put together their own ‘holiday packages' from travel services sold on the internet. Ultimately it should protect travellers against sharp price increases or flight time changes and specify their rights better.