Consumer rights and package holidays

Introduction

A “package holiday” covers two types of travel packages: ready-made and customised or dynamic packages. You now also have rights for linked travel arrangements – explained below.

The EU Directive 2015/2302 on Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements introduced consumer rights for additional types of travel arrangements taking into account the increasing use of internet booking.

SI 80 of 2019 (pdf) gives effect to the Directive in Ireland. The regulations amend some of your rights under the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995 and provide for new rights.

Types of travel packages

Package holidays can be ready-made or customised packages. A package holiday is sold at an inclusive price, must last for more than 24 hours or include an overnight stay. It does not matter if you are asked to pay separately for different components of the package (that is, the flight or transport), your holiday still remains a "package holiday".

Pre-arranged travel packages

Pre-arranged travel packages (ready-made holidays) comprise at least 2 of the following:

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Other tourist services – for example tours, excursions, guides or tickets for concerts or theme parks
  • Car rental

Customised or dynamic packages

This is where you select the components of the holiday, therefore it is not a ready-made holiday. You buy the customised package from a single online or offline point of sale (for example the website or app of one travel organiser whose services combine the relevant travel services and the booking process). All the components must relate to the same trip or holiday.

A customised or dynamic package must include either:

  • a single contract for all services, or
  • separate contracts with different travel service providers, where
    • all the contracts are purchased from a single point of sale
    • all services are selected before the customers agrees to pay
    • there is an inclusive or total price

Linked travel arrangements

Linked travel arrangements (LTAs) are not considered a package and more limited rules apply - see ‘Rules’.

With an LTA you buy 2 or more components of the same trip or holiday under separate contracts. For example, you book a flight on a website and are then invited, through a targeted link, to book a hotel on a different website.

You make a linked travel arrangement if you:

  • Book and complete the purchase of one travel service on one website, and
  • Are then invited, through a targeted link, to ‘click through’ and book a second service on another website, and
  • Conclude the second contract on the second website within 24 hours of the first booking

When the second booking is made:

  • You must be told you are not booking a package and therefore can claim insolvency protection only
  • The second trader must inform the first trader that a contract has been concluded

Travel organisers

A travel organiser is responsible for the proper performance of the package as a whole and must provide a financial guarantee. This guarantee covers refunds and repatriation in cases where organisers go bankrupt. It also applies to linked travel arrangements.

A travel organiser means a trader (that is a tour operator or an online or offline travel agency) that allows you to buy a travel package or manages the booking process. The Commission for Aviation Regulation licenses travel agents and tour operators in Ireland.

Where you are booking a travel package online, you should check whether consumer legislation covering package holidays and linked travel arrangements applies to it. If you are not sure what type of holiday you have booked, check the information you received before you booked or call the travel organiser.

Rules

Holiday contract

You must receive a copy of the contract and every contract must contain:

  • The sort of travel product you are buying (that is, whether it is a package or linked travel arrangement) and the corresponding level of protection
  • The destination and the period of the holiday
  • The cost of the holiday
  • The mode of transport - information provided must include times, dates and places of departure and return.
  • The location and category of the accommodation and its compliance with the law of the EU Member State in question
  • The meal plan, if any
  • Cancellation arrangements ( for example, where a minimum take up is required for a package holiday to come into being in the first place)
  • Details of cancellations
  • Itinerary of any excursions included
  • Contact details of the travel organiser or, if appropriate, the insurer
  • Price and payment schedule, if applicable
  • Any tax or compulsory charges
  • Any special or exceptional requirements, which the consumer has asked for and have been accepted by both parties to the contract
  • The complaints procedure for the consumer if the travel organiser fails to carry out its part of the contract

In addition, before the contract is concluded, your must be given some other important information:

  • Information about passport and any visa requirements
  • Health formalities (that is, if you are required to have any special vaccinations or health advice)
  • Special arrangements in place in the event of unforeseen events for repatriation (returning home) and the security of money paid over in the event that the travel organiser becomes bankrupt
  • Insurance requirements. If insurance is compulsory as part of your package holiday, you must be told this along with the minimum level of cover needed. It is important to remember that you cannot be forced to take out the travel organiser's insurance. Where insurance is optional, your travel organiser must, if it has information that would help you to decide whether to insure or not, give this information to you.

Changes to the contract

Where the organiser makes unilateral changes to the contract you have the right to cancel if the changes significantly alter any of the main characteristics of the travel service.

Cancellation rights

You may cancel your booking at any time before travelling, although it is advisable to give reasonable notice. However, you may incur reasonable cancellation fees.

You have the right to cancel your booking for free, before the start of the package, in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances. This includes natural disaster, war, terrorism, disease or serious conditions at the destination. The organiser is also responsible for covering the costs for repatriation and any possible extra costs.

Cap on price increases

Prices may increase only if the contract expressly allows for this. If the price increases by more than 8%, you have the right to cancel without paying a charge.

Right to transfer

You can transfer your contract to another traveller as long as you give the travel organiser reasonable written notice (at least 7 days) before the start of the package. Both you and the person you transfer the package holiday to, are responsible for payment of the holiday or the remaining balance of payment. You are also responsible for any other costs involved as a result of the transfer.

Booking errors

The organiser must try to resolve an issue if something goes wrong with the package. Traders will be made explicitly liable for booking errors in relation to packages and linked travel arrangements

Right to assistance if in difficulty

The organiser must give appropriate assistance without undue delay if you are in difficulty. This includes information regarding healthcare, local authorities and consular assistance, and assistance for communications and alternative travel arrangements.

Right to rectification of issues

You have the right to have issues rectified while on holiday. Where a significant proportion of the contract cannot be provided you should be offered suitable alternative arrangements. If the organiser does not provide remedies within a reasonable period, you should seek reimbursement of any necessary expenses you have incurred. You should also be entitled, where appropriate, to a price reduction or termination of the contract. You may be entitled to compensation for inconvenience.

Rights for linked travel arrangements

A linked travel arrangement (LTA) is not considered a package and you have more limited rights for these arrangements. Your rights are limited to situations where the provider of the first service goes bankrupt. In this case you are entitled to a money-back guarantee and, where appropriate, repatriation.

When you make the second booking under an LTA, you must be told that you are not booking a package and therefore can claim insolvency protection only.

For more information, you can read the European Commission's page on the Package Travel Directive.

How to apply

Making a complaint

It is important to read through the terms and conditions of your package holiday contract. Your contract will outline the procedures in place for dealing with complaints, it will confirm who you should complain to and how complaints should be made (that is, in writing or another way).

If you have a complaint while on holiday, you should report the problem at once to your local holiday representative or travel organiser in the vicinity.

The organiser must compensate you for any shortfalls in the service that it provides - between what was originally due and what was actually provided.

The travel organiser should be given the opportunity to remedy the situation, at no extra cost to you.

If you are not satisfied that the matter has been resolved, you should gather as much evidence as possible to support your case while on holidays, including taking photographs or video footage (if possible).

If you are not satisfied that the complaint has been dealt with properly when you return from the holiday, you must lodge a complaint in writing to the travel organiser - within 28 days from the date of completion of the package holiday contract.

If it does not respond within a reasonable time, you should send a second letter of complaint.

If you are still not satisfied with the oragniser's response, then you have the following options:

  • Seek advice from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for complaints about traders based in Ireland. The CCPC is empowered to oversee the enforcement of Irish legislation governing package holidays and to identify breaches of this legislation (that is, misleading advertising, or inaccurate brochures). The CCPC cannot bring proceedings on behalf of a citizen.
  • Seek advice from ECC Ireland for complaints about traders based elsewhere in the EU/EEA. In some cases, ECC Ireland may liaise on your behalf to seek an amicable solution with the trader via the centre based in the country of the trader.
  • If the organiser refuses to offer any compensation, you can pursue the matter through the Small Claims Court (for traders based in Ireland and claims up to €2,000) or the European Small Claims procedure (for traders based elsewhere in the EU/EEA and claims up to €5,000), or through arbitration.

Cancellation of the holiday by the travel organiser

If the travel organiser cancels the package holiday or alters a term of the contract, including the price or type of accommodation, you must be given the option of one of the following:

  • A replacement holiday of equivalent or superior quality
  • A lower grade holiday, with a reimbursement of the difference in price
  • A full refund within 14 days

No price changes are allowed within 20 days of the departure date.

The travel organiser has the right to cancel the package due to factors out of its control, such as an act of God, or where it has failed to get the number of people that was required for the package.

Where to apply

You can check that your travel organiser is licensed and bonded here or contact:

Commission for Aviation Regulation

3rd Floor
Alexandra House
Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
D02 W773

Ireland

Tel: (01) 661 1700
Locall: 1890 787 787
Fax: (01) 661 1269

Further consumer information about package holidays and your rights is available from:

ECC Ireland

Macro Centre
1 Green Street
Dublin 7
Ireland

Tel: (01) 879 7620
Fax: (01) 873 4328

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Bloom House
Railway Street
Dublin 1
D01 C576

Opening Hours: - Lines open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm
Tel: (01) 402 5555 or 402 5500
Locall: 1890 432 432


Page edited: 4 April 2019