Find out your rights when you book your holidays through a travel agent or tour operator.
When a traveler buys a travel package from a tour operator, seller or travel service provider, he/she is protected by European Directive (EU) 2015/2302.
What is the travel package?
A travel package is a combination of at least 2 different types of travel services in the context of the same trip or the same vacation. It covers cases where the purchase is made through a website which combines the provision of travel services.
A travel service includes passenger transportation, accommodation, car rental, etc.
Therefore, when, for example, a travel agent sells a trip to another organizer which includes airfare and hotel stay, this contract is considered a travel package and the consumer, with some limited exceptions, is protected by this Directive.
The consumer has the right to be informed by the tour operator or seller about the main features of travel services, package price, taxes, charges and other costs, the organizer/seller’s details, payment methods, minimum number of people for the realization of the package as well as the ability of the traveler to terminate the contract before the trip for a specific fee as well as information about optional or compulsory travel insurance.
When the consumer is not informed of the price and costs of the trip, the consumer does not pay the charges, or other costs.
2) Copy of the Contract
At the conclusion or immediately after the conclusion of the contract, the consumer is provided with a copy of the contract which should contain the above information as well as the specific requirements of the traveler accepted by the organizer, information that the organizer is obliged to provide assistance if the traveler encounters a problem, the details of the local representative of the organizer, the grievance redress procedures and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and the ADR Entity covering the organizer as well as some other information.
3) Changes before the start of the Package
A traveler can assign a package travel contract to another traveler as soon as he or she informs the organizer.
The traveler can terminate the contract for any reason by paying a reasonable and justified charge to the organizer. However, where there are unavoidable and exceptional circumstances at the destination or very close to it which significantly affect the execution of the package, any amount paid by the traveler is refunded without any other charge.
4) Lack of Compliance
Where there is a lack of compliance with a trip (for example where there was no room ready when the consumer arrived at the destination) then the consumer must inform the organizer immediately and without undue delay.
The organizer is obliged to immediately rectify the lack of compliance except where this is impossible or disproportionate. In such a case, however, the consumer is entitled to an appropriate price reduction except where the non-compliance is due to the traveler or to a third party unrelated to the provision of services or to unavoidable and exceptional circumstances.
5) Insolvency Protection
The Directive also protects the consumer from possible insolvency of the organizer. According to its provisions, the organizers must provide a guarantee for the return of all the amounts paid by travelers where they are not executed due to insolvency of the organizers which includes the repatriation of travelers.
The guarantee covers any reasonably foreseeable costs as well as the amounts of payments made by and/or on behalf of travelers in respect of packages, considering the length of time between the collection of advances and final payments and the completion of the packages and the estimated cost of repatriations in the event of insolvency of the organizer.
This article is co-financed by the European Union under the Consumer Program (2014-2020).