The new package holiday laws

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

in the past protection for holidaymakers was limited to overseas holidaymakers who booked a package with an ATOL bonded company. Now the definition of a “package” will change

In July, new regulations come into being which will provide greater protection to many but not all holidaymakers. The important thing to stress is that it won’t apply to all holidays bought. If you buy a flight from one supplier and the accommodation from another you will not be protected (other than by existing laws relating to credit card purchases, EU261 etc) if there is no link between the two.

The regulation says that a package holiday is defined as the purchasing from one supplier of two out of three services – accommodation, transport, other tourism service. As this has been the definition largely used when buying an overseas holiday from a high street supplier, the new rules bring online supliers and domestic holiday providers into the same protection.

What the new rules do provide is that where you buy a flight online and a link in the website takes you to an accommodation booking website then there is protection if an element of the purchase goes wrong. But the second part of the purchase must be within 24 hours. The business that puts together a package for you is responsible for the entire booking. Put all the component parts together yourself and there is every chance that you will be unprotected.

That also applies to, for example, a travel agent who sells you a holiday from one brochure or supplier and then car-hire and flights from others.

family running on beach

If you holiday in the UK and buy to or more components from one supplier you should be covered

If a supplier sells part of the holiday that includes a flight element then that supplier must be a ATOL registered. The ATOL licensed company must pay a small levy, £2.50, for each person protected by ATOL. That money is then held in the air travel trust fund and used by the CAA (as was the case with the collapse of Monarch last year)  ensure that consumers are returned home or refunded when a company fails.

Readers might remember that when lowcostholidays went but in 2016, many bookers failed to get their money back because the company had “moved” it domicile to Spain. Under the new regulations, any company in the EU would have to subscribe to an ATOL type system so that there will be greater protection for bookers. Book a holiday with a company based outside the EU and there will not be as much protection.

and if you buy a flight from an airline, follow a click to a hotel and book then – provided it is done in the same visit or within 24 hours – you should be protec ted

There is also a requirement on the travel agent, tour operator, cruise company etc (be they online or not) for better information to be provided to travellers at the point of booking, making it clear what the buyer’s rights to any refunds an compensation are.

Although the travel industry has known for some time that new regulations would be coming into force it has only been during this month that the government has clarified what some of the regulations will be. Consequently there may be some confusion in the minds of travel companies until they are trained in the new rules.

In essence the rules that holiday buyers had if they went to a travel agent and bought a package holiday from just one supplier – say Thomas Cook, TUI, Cosmos or Jet2 Holidays – will now be protected in the same way if they book online or in a travel agency or airline if that seller is the packager of different elements of the holiday. And, to repeat myself, you must be told at the point of purchase what protection you have so you will know what will happen if the worst happens.

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