Changes to your package holidays rights
The new Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 have replaced and considerably modified the former 1992 Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. The new regulations came into force on 01 July 2018. Holidays taken prior to this will be covered by the previous regulations.
What is a package holiday?
A package holiday is one that has at least two components, all as part of a ‘package’ for which you pay an inclusive price: transport (such as flights, transfers etc.) accommodation and/or another tourist service which makes up a significant proportion of the package. It must last more than 24 hours.
If you submitted one set of payment details with a total price and didn’t have to re-enter them and completed the transaction within 24 hours, this falls into the definition of a package.
The organiser (tour operator) is liable for the financial failures of hoteliers, suppliers and services within the terms of the contract.
What are Linked Travel Arrangements (LTA)
If you purchase a minimum of two different types of travel service from different providers this is not a package travel arrangement. However, if you buy two or more types of travel service together, put together by the travel organiser and you purchase both within a 24 hour period, this is a Linked Travel Arrangement.
For example, you buy a flight with a link to a hotel provided by a different company. If you buy an online flight and then have a link on the aircraft website to an accommodation website, where you purchase a hotel in a separate transaction.
The travel organiser must provide information to you in the same way as it does for a package. (See below).
An LTA does not give you the same protection that the package does. The organiser is not responsible for the service provided by the companies. However, it is responsible for providing financial protection for the refund when a travel service is not carried out due to insolvency. If it is responsible for the carriage of passengers – for example their airline flights – then it is also responsible for their repatriation.
Information that must be given to you about your holiday
The Organiser must clearly state the details of the booking in a Standard Information Form, before you make any payment. The travel organiser also has to provide you strict details of the contract laid out in the Schedules to the Regulations, to accompany the confirmation invoice. This should include specifics of any arrangements, dates, times, costs, meals, excursions included/excluded, activities, transportation, cancellation fees, contact details for the package organiser, information on compulsory/voluntary insurance regarding repatriation in the event of illness/death/accident, and/or the cost of termination of the contract by the traveller. Interestingly, it must also inform the traveller about visa and passport requirements. See Foreign Office in epic fail on passport validity information.
Your rights if the Organiser makes changes
The Regulations state that an organiser must inform the traveller clearly and without undue delay. The organiser must provide the traveller with the option to terminate the contract without paying a termination fee if:
- it has no choice but to significantly alter the main characteristics of the package
- cannot fulfil any special requirements of the traveller which the organiser has previously accepted (paragraph 1 of Schedule 5)
- increases the price by more than 8%
You should be given a reasonable length of time to respond to the above. If you do not, the organiser must send you further communication with a deadline. If you still do not respond the organiser will terminate the contract and refund all payments within 14 days.
If the traveller chooses to terminate a package, your rights
At any time before your package starts, you can terminate the contract. However, you may have to pay the organiser an appropriate fee which they can justify. The fee will take into account costs that the organiser no longer has to pay to a third party. It should also take into account “alternative deployment” of travel services. This is where the organiser has been able to sell a part of the package to someone else. There may be cases where the organiser has not been able to do this and decisions would be made on case-by-case basis.
For example, it would be justifiable to not reimburse the price of an air travel ticket if the organiser cannot cancel or sell it on.
Reasonable termination fees based on the above and the length of time between cancellation and the start of the package must be specified in the contract.
If there are unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances at the destination (or in the immediate vicinity which would affect the travel to the destination) of your package travel contract, such as war, security risks etc. you can terminate the contract without paying a termination fee. You should be fully refunded within 14 days.
What you are entitled to if something goes wrong with your holiday
The consumer is entitled to redress for a variety of things dependent on what regulation has been broken and when.
Loss of value – the difference between the cost paid for the holiday and the one received – e.g. the cost of a 4-star hotel which you paid for and the 2-star hotel to which you were moved.
Out-of-pocket expenses – incurred reasonable costs as a result of the breach of contract – e.g. having to pay for taxis when travel paid for was not provided.
Loss of enjoyment – compensation for the disappointment and distress caused by things going wrong – e.g. no children’s activities which were advertised.
Personal injury, compensation for any personal injury incurred abroad – e.g. medical bills, consequential loss etc, but specialist legal advice is thoroughly recommended for personal injury claims).
For more information, stories, laws and advice see All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights
and for lots more help, tips, guidance and templates All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights