When you're booking a holiday, you'll probably hear about the Package Travel Regulations - so what are they and how can they help you?
In the UK, anyone who sells package holidays has to comply with the Package Travel Regulations 1992. The Regulations were brought in to set out tour operators' (and other travel organisers') responsibilities, and what consumers can do if they have a problem.
These rules have been put into place in the UK to implement a European Directive which affects all member states, so if your holiday is booked in Europe, you should be covered by the Regulations. UK Regulations don't apply to packages sold in other countries by operators established in the UK.
What is a Package Holiday?
A package holiday is defined by law as having at least two of these three components, all as part of a 'package' that you pay an inclusive price for:
transport (such as flights, transfers etc)
another tourist service which makes up a significant proportion of the package.
To be a package holiday, it also has to last for more than 24 hours, or at the very least include overnight accommodation as part of the trip. As an example, a day-trip to a tourist attraction in the UK which includes entry and travel to the attraction wouldn't count.
The package also has to be sold as one - If travel and accommodation (for example) are paid for separately, it's not a package holiday.
What Do The Regulations Mean for Me?
There are certain rules that apply to selling a package holiday.
Brochures - although there's no legal requirement for an agent or tour operator to provide brochures, if they do, the brochure needs to contain information about:
the destination and how you'll get there
full details of the accommodation, where it is, its rating and main features
which meals which are included
basic information about passport, visa and health requirements
when and how much you have to pay
minimum traveller requirements if necessary
deadline for informing customers in the event of cancellation
arrangements covering inward and outward delays
how consumers' money is protected and how they'll get home if the operator goes out of business.
Contracts Under The Package Holiday Regulations
When you buy a holiday, you should receive a copy of a contract in writing. The contract needs to include the same information about transport, dates, accommodation, food and location as the brochure, essentially setting out in great detail what you are getting for your money.
If you have any special requirements such as non-smoking rooms, no children, accommodation for pets, and the tour operator has confirmed this will be acceptable, the arrangements should be included in the contract too.
If the operator changes the contract, you can either agree to the amendments, or you can decide to cancel the holiday without penalty. So you should receive a full refund of whatever you've paid to date. A surcharge can only be added if it is due to changes in transport costs, taxes or fees for certain services, and exchange rates.
The Package Travel Regulations are really there to make sure that you know exactly what you're getting when you book a holiday, and to ensure that you aren't unfairly treated by a tour operator adding charges or making changes to your holiday.
Hi, my wife bought a flights and hotel package off Travel republic, and paid upfront. She receive an email saying 'thanks for your booking', which we take as confirmation that the booking went through. She then received an email today saying that the room we booked was no longer available, and that we could be 'upgraded' to an executive room, for an extra £184, and that the holiday was strictly non-refundable!!!! Can they do this? Surely the Consumer Contracts regulations, trades descriptions act, and the package travel regulations act protect the consumer from precisely this sort of rip-off? Any help appreciated!!!!
happycamper - 18-Jan-17 @ 9:13 PM
Brian - Your Question:
Hi - We have recently returned from a holiday in the Maldives. Whist on holiday my wife contracted Novo Virus, as diagnosed by the Island Doctor. She was ill for most of the second week. I have read that we may be able to claim for the illness? Is this true and how should we proceed?Thank you Brian
Check your travel insurance to see what is covered, the only alternative is to claim compensation via the legal system unfortunately.
YourTravelRights - 13-May-16 @ 10:58 AM
Hi - We have recently returned from a holiday in the Maldives. Whist on holiday my wife contracted Novo Virus, as diagnosed by the Island Doctor. She was ill for most of the second week. I have read that we may be able to claim for the illness? Is this true and how should we proceed?
Brian - 12-May-16 @ 8:46 AM
Joed - Your Question:
I have been notified by my tour operator that my accommodation has been downgraded from a four star to a 3plus.The official rating of the hotel has not altered. I booked the holiday based on the operators star rating and they say it is only a minor change therefore there is nothing I can do.Is this correct?
If it's only a minor change there's not much that can be done. If when you get there you are not satisfied, there is a range of things you should do; please see our guide for information
YourTravelRights - 11-May-16 @ 11:06 AM
I have been notified by my tour operator that my accommodation has been downgraded from a four star to a 3plus .The official rating of the hotel has not altered. I booked the holiday based on the operators star rating and they say it is only a minor change therefore there is nothing I can do.Is this correct?
Joed - 8-May-16 @ 12:52 PM
I booked with a travel company I believed reputable that only caters for the over-50s.Because I am disabled I got the basic contract changed to include my daughter (who is under 30) coming with me as a carer.I was subsequently told that the holiday is unsuitable for disabled persons.Of major concern is that I am being given a load of guff, such as that the rules re. information in brochures are different because the accommodation is on board a river vessel and that the holiday company are unable to have any influence in respect of the facilities provided by their suppliers outside of the UK.(The suppliers are in the Netherlands, another EU country.)I have been offered the opportunity to cancel free of charge but my daughter has booked time off work she can't change and we were both looking forward to the holiday..I want the holiday company to honour the original contract that recognised the fact I am mobility impaired..What is the best way of ensuring that they do so?
Bam's Mam - 24-Jan-16 @ 12:48 PM
@frosty. Here is the Foreign Office advice on travel to Tunisia. If your resort is included in any of the places they advise against travelling to, then you should be able to cancel.
YourTravelRights - 30-Mar-15 @ 12:05 PM
Due to the terrorist attack in Tunisia last week my 3 children, aged 11,8 & 5 do not wish to travel there. All I've had from Thomson is terms & conditions and other stuff you'd expect from a company only caring about £ not customer happiness. Want to cancel but being refused.
What can I?
Frosty - 25-Mar-15 @ 8:25 PM
@sierrasam. The Package Travel Regulations 1992 say that the travel agent (or tour operator) should not provide misleading information in relation to the package holiday itself, the price of the package holiday, or other conditions related to the contract between you and the tour operator.Any travel agent (or tour operator) in breach of this regulation is liable for any loss which you suffer as a consequence. Similar requirements cover holiday brochures.
How much will this affect you holiday? You will need to assess what level (if any) amount would compensate you. Then write to the tour operator quoted the above act.
YourTravelRights - 22-Jan-15 @ 12:29 PM
Webooked in May 2014 with a major tour operator to go to Mexico in June 2015. There are three hotels in the complex and the brochure stated that we had access to the facilities of all three. Recently we were told we could no longer use the facilities of the best one, although apparently they can still use ours! The hotel we cannot now access has been turned into a luxury resort. Information from returning guests suggests that the facilities of the two remaning hotels are overstreched. I cannot change the booking as the reason for going is to attend my neices wedding. Can I insist on access or am I entitled to compensation for the loss of this facility?
sierrasam - 20-Jan-15 @ 1:30 PM
We had problems with our airport transfers during our Summer holiday this year. We booked transfers as part of our package holiday but were not picked up for our return flight. We were told be would be collected from the hotel complex so waited in the hotel reception - when the time came and went by 1/2hr we asked the receptionistto call through to the contact number we were given, only to be told the taxi had come and left without us. Apparently we were expected to be waiting - not at the hotel as stated but about a 3/4min walk up the roadaway from the hotel at a local bus stop. We were stranded in resort, likely to miss our flight which was due to leave at 955; it was 7pm and we were 1 1/2hrs from the airport min from the airport but no way to get there.
After about 1/2hrvery kind person in resort helped us out and we only made our flight because it was delayed by 1 1/2hrs.
I complained to Fleetway on our return but they did not accept any responsibility for what happened. They offered us £50 refund although we had paid £60 for the return transfer and subsequently paid about 60 euros in resort to get ourselves to the airport independently. They later increased this to £70 and £30 in Fleetway Travel vouchers saying it was because 'we missed our transfer'. I did not accept it asking to take the complaint to a higher level. The recent response is offering us £100 and £30 in Fleetway Travel vouchers because it is now being acknowledged that we were given incorrect information.
Despite accepting responsibility, they are still not giving us a full refund. It is an insult to leave us out of pocket and then expect we will want to take another holiday with them.
What further redress do I have?
Kaz - 19-Nov-14 @ 7:40 PM
Hi we booked a cruise and stay holiday for april next year 3 months ago going on the island escape for a week and a week staying at grupotel camp de mar a thomson gold hotel all inclusive . we have just been informed that this hotel is a misprint in brochure even though it shows a picture of the hotel, I know because i have stayed there before.they say we can choose another hotel but none are gold hotels or all inclusive, what are our rights as far as this is concerned and surely this should have been picked up on long before nowin fact at time of booking not 3 months on. I would appreciate your help in this matter. Thank you
trish - 24-Oct-13 @ 5:39 PM
HI I BOOKEDWITH THOMPSON TO GO TO ORLANDO I CHECKED AT THE TIME IT WAS ON THE DREAMLINER.WHICH NOW AS BEEN DELAYED I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT THE SAFETY OF PASSANGER IS THEIR MAIN CONCERN, BUT THOMPSON SAYSTHEY WILL USE 767 WHICH ARE NOT THE SAME AS THE DREMLINER, IWENT ON A THOMPSONS 767 A FEW YEARS AGO THE FLIGHTS WAS UNCOMFORTABLE AND THERE WAS NO IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT AS SOME OF THE TELEVISIONS WERE NOT WORKING I JUST WANT A COMFORTABLE START TO MY HOLIDAY