You sold it, you fix it. Fair enough, right?
You’ve heard the runaround before. Airline cancels flight, you call airline, they tell you to contact the company you booked with, the booking company tells you to call the airline back, and hours later – everyone is still passing the buck around. But by now your hotel is oversold, and you’ve got an entirely new bag of issues to boot! As of July 1st, booking package travel from European vendors, for travel all around the world carries new protections. But, is it a good thing?
Effective July 1st, the United Kingdom will enforce sweeping EU laws, which protect travelers who book package holidays. The gist of the law is quite simple: whoever sold you travel cannot pass the buck onto the airline or hotel, they (the travel booking company) are responsible for your journey, even if it involves other brands. If something goes wrong, it’s the company you booked with who are responsible for sorting out any alternative travel plans, flights, car rentals or hotels. This is designed to increase consumer trust, and eradicate the many frustrating instances where travel companies blame everyone but themselves for traveler woes.
Let’s say you book a trip to Prague for three nights, with flights and hotels in one transaction. Your outbound flight is cancelled, which means you’ll lose a night of hotel. The company which sold you the package is responsible for helping to sort out alternative flights, and either refund your lost hotel night, or make up for it by extending the trip. Or let’s say your flights are on time, but you get to Prague and the hotel can’t accommodate you – the group you booked the travel with must sort out alternative accommodations, and can no longer just say “take it up with the hotel”.
The rules apply to all holiday packages booked in one transaction via any company in the European Union, even if you yourself are not an EU resident. For example, booking a holiday flight and hotel package in one transaction for travel from Paris to New York would apply, and the travel company which sold you your package would be responsible for sorting out alternative plans if anything were to fall through, whether it’s specifically the travel companies fault or not. The key is the one transaction part. If flight and hotel or flight and car rental are booked in one single payment, they’re covered, but if you buy flight, then take an offer to buy hotel immediately after, it’s not.
There’s no doubt that having protections and legal grounds for compensation and remuneration when things go wrong is fantastic. The only issue, is that accounting for potential issues and costs could raise the price of the currently extremely attractive holiday offers out on the market. We commonly see flight and hotel sold for less than the cost of flights alone, but if companies begin to feel the burden of being on the hook for sorting out all issues related to everything they sell, prices could rise. New provisions also allow for potential cancellation for a full refund on the travelers end, if “extraordinary circumstances” apply. There’s an argument that travel bookers could abuse this definition to get around strict cancellation policies. This would obviously not be fair to travel providers. Our take? All in all the new rules probably do more good than harm.