A guide to your holiday consumer rights
If something goes wrong while you’re away or the travel company goes bust, knowing your rights is essential. Here’s what to do if you need to cancel your trip or complain.
You now have the same rights whether you book your holiday at a high street retailer or online.
These are your consumer rights if you book a package holiday or linked travel arrangement.
What counts as a package holiday?
It’s where you buy a combination of at least two different types of travel services for the same trip from a single point of sale, for example:
- Accommodation e.g hotel rooms and apartments
- Transport e.g. bus, rail, ferry or aeroplane
- Vehicle rental e.g. car and motorcycle hire
You must choose the services before you pay and buy them as a package in the same booking, for a total price.
What is a click through package?
It’s where your name, email address, and payment details are passed from the first trader you buy a travel service from to another, via a link. The second booking must be completed within 24 hours of the first.
If you buy a click through package you still have all the same rights as buying a normal package holiday.
Are there any exclusions?
Not every type of trip or travel service counts as a package holiday, some exclusions include:
- Short trips under 24 hours: that don’t include accommodation.
- Packages offered occasionally on a not for profit basis: and only to a limited group of travellers.
- Accommodation for residential purposes: including long term language courses.
- Services which are part of another travel service: e.g. airport transfers and access to facilities like the hotel swimming pool.
- Other services: like ski passes, guided tours and excursions, unless they make up 25% or more of the value of the package or linked travel arrangement.
Your package holiday rights
If you book a package holiday, you should be:
- Given all the essential information from the retailer or trader before the booking is completed.
- Able to contact the organiser directly, and through the retailer you bought the package from (if different).
- Entitled to a full refund and repatriation if the trader becomes insolvent.
- Able to transfer the holiday to another traveller, giving reasonable notice and you may have to pay costs.
- Offered suitable alternative arrangements at no extra cost if a significant proportion of the travel services can’t be provided.
- Given assistance if you’re in difficulty e.g. access to healthcare or alternative travel arrangements.
To understand your rights regarding flight delays and cancellations, check flightrights.ie.
What is a linked travel arrangement?
This is where you buy two or more travel services from different companies that are linked. You book the first service which links through to another service that you book under a separate contract.
For example, you book a flight on one website and click on a targeted link to another website where you book accommodation for your trip.
The second booking must be made no later than 24 hours after the first, to count as a linked travel arrangement.
Your linked travel arrangement rights
You have fewer rights with a linked travel arrangement than with a package contract and you’re only covered against insolvency with the first booking.
If the first company you book with goes bankrupt, you’re entitled to your money back and repatriation, if the money is still held by them.
For example, if you booked hotel accommodation through them and they haven’t yet paid the hotel.
However, if the second company you booked with suffers the same fate, you’re not protected.
When can you cancel?
You can cancel at any time up to the start of your holiday for a reasonable cancellation fee. The less notice you give, the more money you’ll lose.
You’re entitled to a full refund without paying any fee, in the following situations:
- In extraordinary circumstances: e.g. war, terrorism, floods and earthquakes that will significantly affect the holiday or stop you reaching your destination safely.
- If the price is increased by more than 8%: by the organiser.
- If significant changes to the holiday are made: by the organiser e.g. departure and arrival times that will affect your accommodation and transport arrangements.
When can the travel company cancel?
They may have to cancel due to extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, or where they can’t get the minimum number of participants needed for a trip to run. In these situations, you have the option of:
- A replacement holiday of equal or superior quality
- A lower quality holiday, plus a refund for the difference between the two trips
- A full refund
Can the price go up after you’ve booked?
Yes, the cost can go up but not within 20 days of your departure date.
The cost of your trip may be affected by increases to:
- Transport costs e.g fuel prices
- Taxes, fees and duties charged at airports or ports
- Currency exchange rates
Remember, if the total cost increases by more than 8%, you can cancel and get a refund.
How to complain
You must raise any issues with the travel organiser without delay, where you feel a service isn’t satisfactory. If you delay, it could affect the compensation you get.
They should be allowed to put things right but if this doesn’t happen, you should gather evidence to support your complaint e.g. take photos or video footage.
If the matter is still unresolved when you’re back home, you should put your complaint in writing within 28 days of the holiday end date.
Details of where to send your complaint should be shown in the contract’s terms and conditions.
If you’re unhappy with their response or they fail to respond within a reasonable timeframe, you can contact:
- The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CPPC): who can investigate Irish traders and ensure they comply with the Consumer Protection Act.
- ECC Ireland: who can settle complaints between consumers and traders in another EU country, not Ireland.
Travel companies may use arbitration to resolve complaints. This is where an independent party investigates and reviews the evidence, to decide how much compensation to award.
You also have the option of pursuing a claim up to €2,000 through the Small Claims Court.
Tips for booking a package holiday
You can reduce your chances of needing to cancel a trip or making a complaint if you follow these tips:
- Research the destination: and check for any security risks or potential issues.
- Check the tour operator or travel agent: and make sure they’re licensed.
- Read accommodation reviews: from other travellers, to help you choose.
- Shop around: and see if it’s cheaper to buy services separately or as a package.
- Read the small print: or terms of the contract in full and query anything you’re unsure about.
- Get travel insurance: as soon as you book.
Holiday consumer rights FAQs
What information should be included in the booking contract?
When you book a holiday, your contract should confirm whether it’s a package or linked travel arrangement, plus all the key information about your trip such as:
- The destination and dates of travel
- Transport type, departure and return times
- The standard of accommodation and meal plan
- The itinerary
- The package price
- Passport, visa and insurance requirements
Check here for the full contract terms.
What's the difference between a click through package and a linked travel arrangement?
In both cases, two bookings are made within 24 hours of each other and are ‘linked’ together. This is usually by clicking on a targeted link from the first booking, that leads to the second booking.
With a click through package, your personal details are passed over from the first booking to the second (name, email and payment details) but no details are passed over with a linked travel arrangement.
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