Did you book your holiday before 1 July 2018?
The rules around what makes up a package holiday sold in the UK have changed. If you booked your holiday before 1 July 2018, it's only a package when you contract one company to provide at least two of the following components:
- other tourist services that make up a significant proportion of the package. For example a spa service on a spa break, or a guided safari tour on a safari holiday.
Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018
By law you have the right to expect that the holiday you booked and paid for matches the description given to you when you bought it. So, pay careful attention to how the package holiday is described by your travel agent, in the brochure or a website.
If the holiday doesn’t match how it was described, The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018 (The Regulations) - which implement the EU's Package Travel Directive 2015 - give you the right to ask your tour operator to put it right and - if it’s unable to - claim compensation.
If you were unhappy with your package holiday, see our step-by-step guide to claim compensation for a poor package holiday.
Will my package holiday still be covered after Brexit?
Be aware this is an area of consumer rights that could be affected by Brexit. We will update this information once we know more about how we will depart from the EU.
If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it's been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. This transitional period will last from the day the UK leaves the EU to 31 December 2020.
In a no-deal Brexit scenario, EU traders selling holiday packages or linked travel arrangements in or to the UK will be required to comply with the insolvency protection requirements under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements 2018 (PTR 2018) in the same way as all other traders. This means if the company you booked your package with goes bust, you’ll be protected.
But if a package travel organiser is not based in the UK, or does not direct its business to the UK, you should ask for clear information, including on the level of insolvency protection, before you commit to the purchase. You won't be protected by PTR 2018 but you may be covered by insolvency protections in the member state of the European Union.
Bear in mind that taking enforcement action against any seller based outside the UK after Brexit is likely to be more difficult than is currently the case.
Read our guide on how Brexit could impact consumer rights for more information.
You can also sign up for Brexit advice updates - Which? cuts through the noise to find the facts. Our practical and impartial consumer advice, rigorously researched and regularly delivered by email, can help you prepare for the UK leaving the EU.
Is my holiday a package holiday?
In relation to any claim, it's essential to establish whether your holiday benefits from the protection of The Regulations.
Your holiday is probably a package if:
- it was advertised as a package or all-inclusive deal
- you bought the holiday for an inclusive or total price
- you bought more than one part of your holiday, such as flights and accommodation, from one company with one payment
- after booking one part of your holiday, you were prompted to buy another and your personal and payment details were transferred so you didn’t have to enter them again. You completed this all within 24 hours of the first booking.
In summary: If your holiday looked like a package deal when you bought it - it probably is.
Even if your holiday doesn’t fall into one of these definitions, it could still be a ‘Linked Travel Arrangement’.
What’s a Linked Travel Arrangement?
A Linked Travel Arrangement is when you buy one service from a tour operator and are then prompted to buy another - but your information and payment details aren’t transferred.
For example if an email with your flight information has a link to a hotel site which you then book, but you have to re-enter your travel dates, location, personal information and payment details.
You must also buy these services within 24 hours of each other for them to be considered a Linked Travel Arrangement.
It's the responsibility of the first travel company to tell you that you’ve been sold a Linked Travel Arrangement.
- A package holiday is when you book more than one part of your holiday through the same travel agent or website.
- A Linked Travel Arrangement is when you buy one part of your holiday and then are prompted to buy another part within 24 hours but your payment details aren't transferred.
What does it mean if I have a Linked Travel Arrangement?
If you have a Linked Travel Arrangement, you don’t have the same level of protection if something goes wrong but you will benefit from insolvency protection.
That means if one of the companies goes bust, you'll get your money back.
When it's not a package
The Regulations don’t apply if any of the following are true:
- you were away on your package or Linked Travel Arrangement for less than 24 hours, unless your trip included accommodation (in which case it would be a package)
- it was on a not-for-profit basis for a limited group of travellers
- it was a business trip.
The Regulations only apply to packages sold or offered for sale in the UK.
Make sure that whoever you book your holiday with tells you if it’s a package, a Linked Travel Arrangement or neither. And always ask whether your booking has ATOL protection.
What you have to be told before you book
Before you book your package holiday, you have to be told:
- the destination, itinerary, dates, how many nights accommodation are included
- the specifics of the types of transport included
- the specifics of any tourist activities
- which meals are included
- which excursions are included (or excluded) in the package
- whether the trip is accessible for people with reduced mobility
- contact details of the package holiday organiser
- how to pay and the total price of the package including taxes and any additional fees
- the minimum number of people required on the trip before it can take place
- information on passport and visa requirements
- cancellation fees
- information on optional or compulsory insurance to cover the cost of termination of the contract by the traveller or the cost of assistance, including repatriation, in the event of accident, illness or death.
Who’s responsible if something goes wrong?
If something goes wrong with your trip - such as the room you were given wasn’t what was advertised, the food was inedible or even if there was an injury or illness caused by a company - the onus is on the organiser you booked the package with to put it right.
But you have to tell the travel company as soon as possible so they can try fix the situation.
Before you go on your package holiday, whoever you booked your holiday with should give you a contact number in case something happens.
Then if something does go wrong, they're obliged to help you and provide assistance without undue delay, including:
- giving you information about health services, local authorities or consular assistance
- helping you make long distance calls or other forms of contact so you can find other travel arrangements.
Your package holiday travel organiser is allowed to charge a fee for helping you if the difficulty was caused by something you did or your own negligence, but the fee must:
- not be unreasonable
- not exceed the actual costs incurred by the organiser.
But if the travel organiser can prove that something went wrong because of something you or a company totally unconnected to the package deal did, or there were unforeseeable or extraordinary circumstances, then they may not have to pay out compensation.
We have more information about how to claim if you’re unhappy with your package holiday.
What if my package holiday changes after it starts?
If after departure a significant proportion of the services contracted for is not provided, or the organiser becomes aware that they will be unable to procure a significant proportion of them:
- the organiser must make suitable alternative arrangements, at no extra cost to you, for the continuation of the package and will, where appropriate, compensate you for the difference between the services to be supplied under the contract and those actually supplied
- if it is impossible to make arrangements, or these are rejected by you for good reason, the organiser will, where appropriate, provide you with equivalent transport back to the place of departure or to another place to which you have agreed and will, where appropriate, compensate you.
Making a package holiday compensation claim
If you want to claim compensation for a package holiday, damages in travel claims can usually be broken down into four headings, although your complaint may not fall into every category:
- Loss of value This is the difference between the value of the package holiday you paid for and the one you actually got
- Out-of-pocket expenses Any reasonable expenses you incurred as a result of the breach of contract
- Loss of enjoyment Compensation for the disappointment and distress caused by things going wrong
- Personal injury Compensation for any personal injury incurred abroad. You'll need to seek specialist legal advice in relation to this
In the case of unsatisfactory-quality complaints, there are no set guidelines as to the assessment of damages.
In many of the reported cases, the judge does not separate the damages for loss of value and loss of enjoyment, but awards an aggregate amount.
We recommend, though, that you still set out your claims separately. Presenting the case in a detailed and logical format will facilitate an earlier settlement, and is likely to achieve a better settlement for you.
What if there’s a change in the price of my package holiday?
Once you’ve agreed to and paid for your package holiday, the price can only be increased if:
- it says in the terms and conditions that the price increase might happen
- they’re as a result of the rise in the cost of fuel or other power sources
- the taxes or fees imposed by other third parties are increased, such as tourist taxes, port or airport fees
- the exchange rates relevant to the package increase.
And you must be shown how the pay increase was calculated.
On the other hand, you’re also entitled to a price reduction if any of the above factors drop in price, but the travel agent is allowed to deduct any admin fees from however much money you get back.
If the pay increase equals 8% or more of the total cost of your package holiday, you must be told at least 20 days before the holiday is due to start and be provided a clear calculation of the price rise.
If you don’t want to pay an increase of 8% or more, you can cancel the booking without termination fees.
Can I cancel my package holiday?
If any essential part of your package holiday is changed significantly, except the price, you can cancel without paying termination fees.
An essential part of the package could be any one of the following:
- the precise accommodation, standard of accommodation and accommodation facilities
- the type and standard of transport
- the place of departure and destination
- any facility or service advertised or promoted as forming a part of the package
If you want to cancel for any other reason, you can terminate the contract but you’ll have to pay a ‘reasonable and justifiable’ termination fee.
You can read more about how to cancel your package holiday and whether you can transfer it to someone else in our guide.
What if one of the companies in my package holiday goes bust?
If the organiser or the retailer becomes insolvent, your payment for your package holiday will be refunded through ATOL protection.
Linked Travel Arrangements have separate insolvency protections.
You can read more about what to do if your travel company has gone bust in our guide.