Vacation packages or flexible travel: who is responsible in the event of a dispute?
What travelers should know when planning their vacation
Whether all-inclusive on the Mediterranean, holiday apartments by the Baltic Sea or half-board in the mountains: many people are on fire again, and the tourism industry is recording record sales. It is not always easy to follow a large number of offers. The fine print should also be read carefully before ordering. “The law gives more rights to package travel than to individual bookings,” said Jan Philipp Stupnanek, a lawyer and travel law expert at the NRW Consumer Advice Center. “Everyone who orders travel, accommodation and other services individually must defend their rights individually with each service provider in the event of a problem.
- Comprehensive carefree packaging If you want to spend less time planning a trip, you can do a lot by choosing a travel package. It is a “package” of at least two different travel services, such as a flight and a hotel, booked with one supplier. Advantage: In case of problems, travelers have one, usually a local contract partner. In the event of legal disputes, the organizer may be held liable at the registered office of his company under German law. In addition, the tour operator must take out insolvency insurance. This guarantees that in the event of the insolvency of the service provider, consumers will be reimbursed for payments made before the start of the journey. They will also be repatriated in the event of bankruptcy during the trip.
- Travel flexibly and independently If you want to plan your holiday according to your individual preferences and want to be as flexible as possible, you can book trips, accommodation and the like individually and enter into contracts with different service providers accordingly. If problems occur during the trip, victims should contact the relevant service providers in person. They are then liable if they are unable to provide the services as agreed. In the event of a legal dispute with a service provider, it is first necessary to check where legal action can be taken and which law is applicable. For example, self-booked accommodation is governed by the law of the country where the hotel or holiday home is located. Another important difference of the travel package: there is no statutory protection against insolvency.
- Complex responsibilities in online portals Online portals such as Opodo, Swoodoo, fluege.de or Kiwi.com are usually only brokers for flights or other tourist travel services. The contractual partner is the provider of the relevant service, such as an airline. If a flight consists of different flights from different airlines, it usually means that each of these airlines has a contract – even if it looks like a single booking on the booking portal. Many travelers are unaware of this and service providers often take advantage of this ignorance. Passengers are being pushed back and forth between brokers and airlines, and no one seems to be responsible for recovering flight prices for a few more weeks. Another disadvantage: if a flight is canceled at the same time and you are unable to make connecting flights, you incur costs. All that remains is a claim on the taxes and fees paid.
More information and links:
Flight delayed, canceled, rescheduled or congested, as well as baggage issues: The Flugärger app is a self-help tool that allows you to conveniently and free of charge calculate and file claims with the airline. More information at: www.verbraucherzentrale.de/node/40119
Jan Philipp Stupnanek | Travel Law Expert
Tel. (0211) 38 09-101
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