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New package holiday rules finally make booking online safer

Greater protection for holidaymakers as more holidays will count as packages

Holidaymakers who book package deals online will have more protection if something goes wrong.

In the past, package holiday protection only extended to holidays bought in a single transaction, but from July the law will also cover custom built holidays. That means customers who book flights and hotels separately, as many of us do through sites such as Expedia or Lastminute.com, will now get package holiday protection.

You will still need to book with the same provider to enjoy the full range of package holiday protection. Read our guide to package holiday protection rules to find out if your holiday will be classed as a package.

The protection covers quite a lot of eventualities. Whether you turn up at your destination and the hotel isn’t as advertised or an ash cloud prevents you from travelling, the provider you purchased the holiday from is responsible for looking after you; whether that’s fixing the problem or issuing compensation.

Still holes in cover

Not all holiday bookings will be covered. Some websites use a third party to provide either the flight or hotel element of the booking. In these instances holidaym will only be covered by what’s known as ‘linked travel arrangements’, which only protects against the company going bust.

In many cases it’s often unclear on booking websites who you are actually buying the hotel or flight from, so customers may not know they aren’t fully covered until something goes wrong.  

New package travel regulations in detail

The regulations bring the UK’s current regulations into line with the EU Package Travel Directive legislation which comes into force on 1 July 2018.

The Package Travel Regulations extend the protections of people who book travel services for the same trip. For example:

  • All-inclusive holidays made up of at least two services, such as transport, accommodation or food
  • Different parts of a holiday chosen by the traveler who then purchases them all from the same business
  • Linked travel arrangements – for example when a traveler books something with one company – like a flight – and is then prompted to buy another service – like a car hire – within 24 hours
  • Before someone books with a company, they must be clearly informed about what exactly they’re buying and their rights to a refund
  • The travel company is responsible for booking errors it makes
  • People will be able to cancel a booking with no termination fee ‘in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’ in ‘its immediate vicinity’. If this happens while the traveler is on the holiday, the travel company has to pay for the continued accommodation which should not exclude three nights
  • Travelers have the right to terminate if a price increase exceeds 8%

Package holidays are your best form of protection

Editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said: ‘Package holiday regulations have finally been dragged out of the dark ages. These new rules mean far more holidays will be classed as packages, giving holidaymakers protection when something goes wrong..

‘Travel agents should have already been training staff about these new rules so they can accurately communicate what is and what isn’t covered to customers. We expect the authorities to step in if they don’t get it right’

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