The EU Package Travel Directive, in force since July 2018, aims to protect travellers that have booked combinations of at least two types of travel services (transport, accommodation, car rental or other services, for example guided tours) – either as ready-made ‘packages’ or as ‘linked travel arrangements’ (a flowchart helps to distinguish between these two) by offering the following guarantees:
- Clear information for travellers
- Money-back and repatriation in case of bankruptcy
- Clear rules on liability
- Strong cancellation rights
- Accommodation if the return journey cannot be carried out
- Assistance to travellers.
Currently, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis and the wave of holiday cancellations that came with it, the European Commission is reviewing the PTD. To this end, a number of stakeholder consultation activities (surveys, interviews, workshops) are ongoing, to which EPF is actively participating.
In our view, the PTD review should – in a nutshell – address the following main issues:
- Enforcement. Currently, the provisions on enforcement are quite vague, which leads to a fragmented application and limited compliance across the EU.
- Insolvency protection. Minimal, and harmonised, rules to ensure appropriate risk coverage (covering not only insolvency but also liquidity problems and, where applied, vouchers), are needed.
- Cancellation by passengers. In case of a major crisis (and notably following official travel warnings / advice), passengers should be able to cancel their trip without having to pay a termination fee.
- Vouchers. The legal conditions under which vouchers may be offered should be clarified: vouchers must always be voluntary, insolvency protected, and flexible in terms of transferability and validity.
- Intermediaries. Both for standalone flights and packages, the role of intermediaries must be clarified: who informs passengers and assists them in case something goes wrong?
- Clarify definitions. For passengers, it is often not clear what kind of package / travel arrangement they bought and what rights are associated with it.
In general, alignment should be sought with other Regulations, in particular the Air Passenger Rights’ Regulation – to ensure harmonised and consistent rules on notably insolvency protection, the role of intermediaries, the legal conditions that should apply whenever vouchers are offered as an alternative to refunds, and the passengers’ right to cancel a ticket / trip on their own intiative (which should be possible without fee in case of a major crisis).