Representation in United Kingdom

Holidaymakers advised to get to know EU package travel rights before they travel

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holidays
holidays

EU rules on package holidays introduced last year give consumers better protection even when they put the package together themselves, rather than buying it ready from a travel agent. But the complaints handled by the UK’s European Consumer Centre, an organisation which helps people resolve problems with EU traders, show holidaymakers are uncertain about these new rules.

01/08/2019

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 new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations have applied across the EU since 1 July 2018.  Under the new rules, package holidays consisting of a flight, hotel, car-hire or other tourist services such as guided tours (either bought online for an all-in price or through linked webpages) get the same protection as packages bought in travel agencies.

Key provisions include:

Strong cancellation rights: free cancellation before departure in case of natural disasters, war or other serious situations at the destination and package travellers can also cancel their holiday for any reason by paying a reasonable cancellation fee.

Clear rules on liability: the organiser of the package is liable if something goes wrong, no matter who performs the travel services and traders are explicitly liable for booking errors.

Clarification on essential consumer rights: the organiser is obliged to help travellers in difficulty, for example to make alternative travel plans, consular assistance, information on health services. For example, in the case of natural disasters, travellers are entitled to extra accommodation for up to three nights if their return journey is affected.

Guarantees of money-back and repatriation if the package organiser goes bankrupt. Also, airlines selling linked-travel are obliged to take out insolvency protection, guaranteeing refunds and repatriation in such cases.

Clear information for travellers: Businesses must inform travellers whether they are offered a package or linked travel arrangement, and on their key rights through standardised information forms. They must provide clear information on the features and characteristics of the package, its price and any additional charges. 

More information here from UK ECC website and here from the European Commission.  See also this factsheet. 

Background

The UK ECC helps UK consumers resolve problems they have with traders based in Europe: such as obtaining replacement goods, repair, refund or cancellation of a contract.

Consumers can contact advice UK European Consumer Centre for advice on 01268 88660 – Mondays to Thursdays between 10am and 4pm.