What is a travel package?
A package holiday means:
- a combination of at least two different types of travel services
- a duration of 24+ hours (or an overnight stay)
A travel package can be:
- ready-made, i.e. pre-arranged and organised by a trader
- dynamic, i.e. customised by the consumer
- standard – when sold at an inclusive price, from a single point of sale, comprising one/more contracts with a single/multiple traders
- click-through – when the first trader within the package contract forwards the consumer’s name, payment details and e-mail address to the second/more traders. The second booking must be completed within 24 hours of the first.
A package includes at least two travel services, such as:
- car rental
- tourist services that account for at least 25% of the package value
A package does not include these services:
- Short trips under 24 hours that don’t include accommodation: guided tours and excursions
- Residential accommodation for long-term education
- Additional location-based services such as airport transfers, pool access, ski passes, etc. (unless they represent more than 25% cent of the package value)
Package Travel Consumer Rights
The holiday brochure must contain the following information, which is binding and must not be false or misleading:
- The price of the holiday
- The holiday destination
- The means of transport to destination
- The type, location and description of the accommodation
- The meals plan
- The passport and visa requirements
- The payments schedule
- Cancellation terms
- Any tax and charges
- Health formalities (i.e. if you are required to have any special vaccinations or health advice)
- Insurance requirements
- Repatriation arrangements
- Insolvency reimbursement
If an organiser significantly alters a term of the contract (e.g. price or accommodation) or cancels the contract, you must be given one of the following options:
- A replacement package of equivalent or superior quality
- A lower-grade package with a refund of the price difference
- A full refund
Price revisions of the travel package by the organiser are only allowed in a number of specific circumstances:
- currency fluctuations
- variations in the cost of fuel
- changes in government tax or duty.
No price changes are allowed within 20 days of the departure date.
The terms of the cancellation policy and refund options largely depend on who cancels the travel package.
Cancellation by company
The organiser does have the right to cancel a package holiday due to factors beyond their control or where they can’t get the minimum number of participants needed for a trip to run. In these situations, you are entitled to:
- A replacement holiday of equal or superior quality
- A lower quality holiday, plus a refund for the difference between
- the two trips
- A full refund
Cancellation by passenger
You can cancel at any time up to the start of your holiday for a reasonable cancellation fee. If you cancel your holiday yourself, you must take into account that you may lose your deposit or be required to pay a cancellation fee. You are entitled to a free cancellation and a full refund in the following situations:
- Extraordinary circumstances: war, terrorism, floods and earthquakes that will significantly affect the holiday or prevent you from reaching your destination safely.
- If the price is increased by more than 8% by the organiser.
- If significant changes to the holiday are made by the organiser (such as flight departure and arrival times) that will affect the other services included in the package (like accommodation and transfer arrangements).
You may buy directly from the trader who combines the packages (the organiser, e.g. a tour operator) or through a retailer (e.g. a travel agent). Both have formal responsibilities (e.g. liability for misleading brochures). The organiser is responsible for the actual performance of the package, irrespective of the providers of the travel services included in the package. Organisers are also required to provide a financial guarantee to cover refunds and repatriation in the event of insolvency of the organiser.
Package Travel Redress Options
If the information as above turns out to be inaccurate, the package holiday contract will outline the procedure for dealing with complaints if the organiser is at fault.
Note that you may not be entitled to compensation if the failures which occur in the performance of the contract are attributable to your actions, a third party unconnected with the holiday arrangements, unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the organiser.
If you run into difficulties while on holiday you should:
- Report the problem immediately to the local representative or the organiser.
- Give the local representative or the organiser the opportunity to remedy the situation at no extra cost.
- If the problem is not resolved, gather as much evidence as possible to support your case (e.g. take photographs).
After your return from holiday:
- Submit your complaint in writing to the organiser within 28 days.
- Send another letter of complaint if the organiser does not respond within a reasonable time
If you’re unhappy with the trader’s response or they fail to respond within a reasonable timeframe, you can avail of the following options out-of-court and in-court redress options:
Out Of Court
If you are an Irish consumer and you wish to report a travel business based elsewhere in the EU/EEA, ECC Ireland can assist with your complaint. Contact us here for advice and assistance and to learn more about our informal dispute resolution service.
If you are an Irish consumer and you wish to report an Irish travel business, contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
If you are an Irish consumer and you wish to report a travel business based elsewhere in the EU/EEA, you can initiate action through the European Small Claims procedure, with which we can assist here.
If you are an Irish consumer and you wish to report an Irish travel business, you can avail of the Small Claims Procedure in Ireland.
Learn more about package holidays here.
Learn how to claim compensation for travel package disruption here.
Read more about the Travel Package Directive EU Directive 2015/2302 and the European Parliament’s report on its application here.