Read about your rights before you hit the road …
Irish tourists are embarking on their summer getaways abroad this August, a favoured period to soak up the sun across Europe and beyond. However, the 2023 summer season has brought unforeseen challenges, such as flight cancellations due to strikes and wildfires in parts of Europe, resulting in the evacuation of numerous holiday-makers. Prolonged heatwaves in Southern Europe and severe flooding in other regions have also prompted holiday cancellations and delays. Therefore, it remains crucial to safeguard your holiday plans and payments in case of any mishaps. Understanding the extent of cancellation coverage based on your booking type and terms of agreement with travel operators is of utmost importance.
Consumers who experience cancellation or postponement of a travel package will be offered one of the following: a replacement holiday of equal or superior quality; a lower quality holiday, plus a refund for the difference; a full refund. Holidaymakers can cancel the package themselves for a reasonable fee but are entitled to free cancellation and full refund in the following situations: natural disasters; substantial changes in price and nature of the trip; conditions on the ground. Linked travel arrangements enjoy similar consumer protections.
If you organised your holiday yourself, you are likely to have different contracts with different companies for different services. Independent holidays entail services purchased from separate operators and, as such, are governed solely by the Terms & Conditions specified in each of the contracts, which also detail the applicable jurisdiction law. Also note our advice on multiple holiday bookings made through third-party agents.
If you are resident in Ireland and you booked your independent holiday with companies and service providers based abroad within the EU/EEA, you won’t be protected by Irish law nor by EU package travel legislation. In such cases, obtaining compensation when something goes wrong may be more difficult and take longer.
Types of Travel
If your holiday travel services are all booked separately, you should look into how it all works in case any one of the elements of your trip gets cancelled, specifically when it comes to the cancellation of flights or ferry services out of Ireland, as this would prevent you from reaching your destination abroad, and therefore from accessing the other services that are of your holiday, such as hotels, accommodation, transfers, tours, etc.
Learn more about your consumer protections when it comes to air passenger rights, as well as sea travel by ferry or passenger ship. If your onward travel in Europe involves a bus or a train, note the consumer rights you have for missed connections or cancelled journeys.
In case you have booked your accommodation directly and independently – not part of a holiday package – if you arrive too late or miss your first day of the reservation, due to a travel delay or cancellation, for example, it may trigger automatic cancellations of the entire stay reservation in some strict cases and, in some cases, the inability to claim your money back. Consumer rights and protections will differ for hotels, private rentals (booked directly with the owner or through a third-party platform) and timeshare/club arrangements.
Car rental stands apart from the other modes of travel due to its lack of dedicated consumer rights protection in both European Union and national regulations in the Member States. When you reserve a car via online platforms, phone or e-mail within the EU, you are not automatically entitled to cancel and seek a refund. However, the terms and conditions of the car rental company might offer such provisions and your fundamental consumer rights still apply. Depending on the type of reservation, it is important to meticulously review the terms of both the third-party booking website and the car rental agency. Find out more about your car rental rights here.
If you have a consumer dispute with any of the operators of the travel services included in your holiday, and you have been unsuccessful in claiming a refund, there are several ways to obtain redress. Chargebacks can only be used as a last resort when all the claims processes with the traders have been exhausted and no refunds are forthcoming.
These days it is preferable to secure travel insurance immediately after confirming your holiday plans. To ensure the most suitable coverage, check the extent of protections before, during and after your trip. This involves confirming whether cancellations (including flights and accommodation) are included and if any travel advisories or disruptions could impact your departure. Numerous companies offer robust, comprehensive travel insurance packages that encompass a wide array of scenarios, such as cancellations, lost baggage, missed hotel bookings, unfulfilled on-site travel services, and more. For ultimate peace of mind, it’s always advisable to opt for comprehensive travel and medical insurance.
For any problems with your cross-border reservation of package travel or flights, accommodation, car rental and more, if you are resident in Ireland and you have a complaint about a travel or flight operator based in another European Union country, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom, and you have tried to resolve the matter directly to no avail, please contact us the European Consumer Centre Ireland for assistance here. Learn how to make a cross-border complaint here.
Please note that the European Consumer Centre Ireland provides advice to Irish consumers who experience issues with cancelled, delayed, or missed travel booked specifically with cross-border travel services operators based in the EU. This includes airlines operating international flights flying out of Ireland, with the exception of airlines registered in Ireland (Aer Lingus and Ryanair, for example – for these, please contact the Irish Aviation Authority) and all non-EU registered airlines flying into non-EU jurisdictions (for these, you must contact the aviation regulator in the respective countries). We also deal with non-Ireland ferry operators departing from Ireland for EU destination ports, but not with ferry companies registered in Ireland (for these please contact the National Transport Authority of Ireland).