When booking a holiday, you may come across the possibility of package travelling or linked travel arrangements. These are regulated by the European Directive 2015/2302. The Directive provides a well-defined list of rights both before and throughout the booking process until the holiday ends.
Package travel is when there is a combination of at least two different types of travel services. Such services include carriage of persons, accommodation, car rental or motorcycles, and any other touristic service that account for a significant proportion of the value of the package, such as excursions or guided tours.
The second requirement is that these services must be sold at an inclusive or total price. Furthermore, they must be purchased from the same trader irrespective of whether these services are on a single or separate contract.
When separate contracts are concluded with different individual service providers, those services should be:
- Advertised or sold under the term ‘package’ or a similar term;
- Combined after the conclusion of a contract whereby the trader entitles you to choose among a selection of different types of travel services.
Note: When you decide to purchase travel services online, you must make sure that the travel organiser forwarded your data to the other trader or traders and that all contracts are concluded within 24 hours after the booking confirmation of the first travel service was made.
- You can cancel your package holiday where the price increases more than 8% or in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack in the holiday destination.
- You are entitled to be informed of your rights.
- Travel companies must make it clear that what is being bought by you is package travel.
- All essential information should be given to you before booking, for example, the departure schedule.
- If you build your package arrangement, you have the same protection as a consumer who buys pre-packaged holidays from a single sales outlet.
- Any brochure available to the consumer by the travel operator must clearly and precisely indicate the following information:
- The main characteristics of the travel services such as; the travel destination(s), itinerary and accommodation; means, characteristics and categories of transport; meal plan; excursion(s) and visits included in the price; the size of the group of the particular travel service offered; the language in which the travel service is to be conducted; and if the trip is suitable for persons with reduced mobility
- These characteristics form an essential part of the package travel contract and shall not be altered unless both parties expressly agree otherwise. Once the package is concluded, the consumer is entitled to request a hard copy
- The trading name and geographical address, telephone number and email address where applicable
- The total price of the package is inclusive of taxes.
- The payment arrangements
- The minimum number of persons required for the package to occur and the deadline to inform you that the package is cancelled
- Passport and Visa requirements
- Termination of the contract, including termination fees where applicable
- Insurance policy
The information contained in the brochure must not be misleading or deceptive and is binding on the travel organiser. If you suffer any shortcomings due to any misleading information in the brochure, the organiser will be liable to pay compensation.
Moreover, before the conclusion of the contract, the travel organiser is also required to provide the following information:
- Name and address of the insolvency protection and its contact details;
- Details of the person to contact in case of difficulty;
- In case of minors, information such as direct contact to be made with the child or the person responsible at the place where he is to stay;
- Redress options;
- The right to transfer the package to a third party
This information shall be provided in a clear, comprehensible, and prominent manner.
An important right given to you is the possibility of transferring the package travel to another person provided that the travel organiser is informed on a durable medium at least seven days before the start of the package. You will be jointly liable with the other person for any additional fees, charges or other costs arising from the request of such transfer. Nonetheless, those costs shall be reasonable, and the organiser must provide the necessary documents to prove the additional costs.
Price increases are only possible in currency fluctuations, variations in the cost of fuel, changes in government tax or duty. The travel organiser is obliged to provide a justification on a durable medium that there is an increase in the price not later than 20 days before the start of the package, which increase in price cannot exceed 8% of the total price.
The travel organiser is not allowed to change the terms unless:
- This right is reserved in the contract;
- The change is insignificant; and
- You are informed about the change.
If the travel organiser is forced to change any of the package’s main characteristics significantly, one may either accept the proposed change or terminate the contract without paying a termination fee.
Furthermore, one may choose a substitute package offered by the travel organiser of the same or higher value. If the package is of a lower quality or cost, you are entitled to an appropriate price reduction. However, once the contract is terminated and a substitute package is not accepted, you are not entitled to a full refund within 14 days from the termination of the contract.
A question commonly asked, especially during this extraordinary period, is if one has the right to terminate package travel? It is an additional right offered to the consumers who opt to purchase their holiday through package travel.
You may also decide to terminate the package travel subject to an appropriate and justifiable fee payable to the travel organiser. If the fee is not included in the contract, the consumer may ask for a justification of the amount to be paid.
It is important to note that one has the right to cancel the package without paying any termination fee in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances such as national disaster, war, terrorism, disease, or severe conditions at the destination, which will affect the performance of the package or the passengers. Once the package is cancelled, the travel organiser shall refund in full the consumer.
If the travel operator cancels the package, he is not bound to offer you an alternative trip. However, he must refund you in full within 14 days of the cancellation.
If the package is cancelled, additional compensation is not allowed in two scenarios:
- If the number of consumers buying the package is smaller than the minimum number and the travel organiser notifies the consumer within the period fixed in the contract but not later than;
- 20 days if the trip is for more than 6 days;
- 7 days if the trip is between 2-6 days;
- 48 hours before the start of the package if the trip is less than 2 days
- Due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, the travel operator must notify you of the cancellation before the trip’s start.
The travel organiser is responsible for performing all travel services included in the package and remedying any lack of conformity highlighted. If the organiser fails to remedy the situation, you may do so yourself and request reimbursement of the necessary expenses.
Furthermore, one is also entitled to an appropriate price reduction for any period during which there was a lack of conformity without undue delay unless the travel organiser proves that the lack of conformity is attributable to the consumer.
The travel organiser is also liable to assist consumers who are in difficulty by providing appropriate information related to health services, local authorities and consular assistance. Moreover, the travel organiser is also expected to assist them in finding alternative travel arrangements.
Package travel organisers must ensure that you are repatriated home if the organiser of the package goes bankrupt. Thus, it must be ensured that the organisers take out insolvency protection to ensure that repatriation schemes and refunded mechanisms are effective.
The Directive clearly states what should not be considered as package travel in three scenarios:
- If the package is for less than 24 hours and does not include an overnight stay;
- If the package is offered occasionally, on a not-for-profit basis and to a limited group of travellers;
- If the package is purchased for business travel related to his trade, business, craft or profession.