Last updated on March 16th, 2020 at 08:02 am
Covid-19 (Coronavirus): What rights do I have when travelling?
The coronavirus has now reached many European consumers and numerous consumers are contacting our Centre asking about their rights as new cases of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) are being diagnosed every day in different countries. Many travellers are uncertain whether they should start their holidays or whether they should stay at home. ECC Malta summarised tips for consumers who are planning to travel or already made the necessary travel arrangements.
Please note that all the advice below applies to consumers and businesses based in the EU, Iceland, Norway, and the UK. If your holiday provider or airline is based outside this area, then EU law will not apply, and you may not have the same rights.
In this circumstance, do I have the right to reimbursement?
This right depends on who will decide to cancel the trip. This decision leads to two possible scenarios;
- the consumers cannot continue with the service booked due to an action taken by the airline; authority; travel organiser or any other service
- the consumer who decides not to travel due to precautionary measures.
If the consumer booked through package travel?
If the trip is cancelled because of extraordinary circumstances, the consumer has the right for another package under the same or better conditions. However, if the consumer is not satisfied with the options proposed, the consumer has the right to ask for the reimbursement of the full amount paid. In case of extraordinary circumstance, the consumer is not entitled to claim additional compensation. Nonetheless, if the package travel is safe and the travel agent decides to continue as per the booking made, the consumer has no right to ask for compensation. The consumer has only the right to ask for compensation if there is a change to the booked package travel, and this change will have a significant consequence to the performance of the agreed package example you booked a concert and this concert is cancelled.
If the consumer decides to cancel because of the evolving situation, then the consumer can only rely on the conditions provided in the contract which could mean that the consumer will have to pay for the cancellation fees too.
What right do apply to individual travellers?
In the case of individual travel bookings, e.g. a separately booked flight and a separately booked hotel, the cancellation of the flight or the hotel is only possible as a gesture of goodwill by the airline or the hotel. Travellers should contact the airline or the hotel immediately and ask for the conditions of cancellation. Some airlines provide the possibility to cancel or rebook flights without paying cancellation charges. If your flight was cancelled by the airline, they either must refund the money, or they must provide another means of transport.
Which are the most affected areas or countries?
The updated list of the most affected areas or countries issued by the Health Ministry until 11/03/2020 include:
- China (including Hong Kong)
- South Korea
Our advice is not to rush before taking any decision to cancel the trip booked. If the situation at your destination deteriorates, it is more likely that your travel agency or the airline will take the decision to cancel the package, which guarantees you the right to a full refund of the money paid. On the other hand, if you decide to cancel the package or any service provided, then check the cancellation conditions provided in the contract. If the contract does not include extraordinary circumstances, try to negotiate with the trader for the best compromise for both parties.
Regularly follow updates on the situation one can use the COVID-19 helpline on +356 21324086 or log on the following link: https://covid19malta.info/