The new travel law has been in effect since July 1st. It is primarily intended to provide better protection for package travelers. But there is also one major drawback.
VMany consumers rely on package tours when booking a holiday – they are convenient and safe if something goes wrong: the organizer is liable in most cases. The new travel law, which came into effect on July 1, is intended to provide even better protection for package travelers in particular. But there is also a minus point from the consumer’s point of view: providers can demand higher price changes for package tours than before.
When are tour operators allowed to increase the price retrospectively?
This is possible with package tours, for example, if the costs have increased since booking – for example because exchange rates have changed, higher airport charges are due or the transport becomes more expensive, for example due to increased fuel prices.
How high can a price increase be?
If the organizer reserves the right to increase the price in the booking contract, consumers previously had to accept it up to a threshold of five percent of the travel price – but now it is eight percent. So anyone who has booked a trip worth 2000 euros can be asked to pay for another 160 euros at short notice – according to the previous legal situation, it was 100 euros.
What if there is an increase of more than eight percent?
The organizer cannot simply enforce such a price increase. From this threshold, the traveler has a right of withdrawal. The organizer must set the traveler a “reasonable” deadline in which the customer can decide whether to take the more expensive trip or withdraw from the contract and get his money back in full.
By when does the organizer have to claim the increase?
This is possible up to 20 days before the start of the journey, after that no more. If, however, a price increase above the threshold hits the consumer shortly before the end of the 20-day period, it is questionable whether the holidaymaker will not simply bite the bullet. Because, especially in popular holiday areas, there are often no offers at the original price to be found at such short notice.
Can the price of a package tour also go down?
Unlike before, this is now theoretically possible. If the organizer reserves the right to increase the price, the traveler is also entitled to a price reduction in return, should the costs decrease. The provider must reimburse the difference, but may deduct “administrative costs”.
What other innovations are there?
The new travel law, with which Germany is transposing the EU package travel directive into national law, is primarily a reaction to the changed booking behavior of travelers – many are now putting together their own vacation on the Internet.
The “linked travel service” was therefore introduced: anyone who clicks their way through the network from flight to hotel to rental car may have booked a package tour according to their own assessment – but not in the opinion of the providers. All providers, including travel agencies, must make it clear in future for such connected travel services that the buyer does not enjoy the same protection as with a package tour.
Even those who go on a day trip or book a holiday home are no longer protected by German package travel law. By excluding these services from package travel law, consumers lose their rights to repayment of down payments if the organizer is insolvent.
The new law also offers advantages for consumers. The warranty period is extended: In the event of defects, travelers can assert their claims for two years in the future. Previously, this was only possible up to a month after returning from the trip.