The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 apply to holiday travel arrangements booked on or after 1 July. The new regulations cover two types of travel arrangements – package holidays and linked travel arrangements – which have different levels of protection.
The following information will help you to understand what the regulations may mean for your travel arrangements.
The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 cover two types of travel arrangements – which have different levels of protection:
A package holiday, which has both legal and financial protections.
A linked travel arrangement, which only has financial protection – and this is at a lower level than if you bought a package holiday. This protection only covers the insolvency of the company arranging the sale of the services making up the linked travel arrangement and does not protect you from the failure of the companies actually supplying your travel arrangements, such as an airline.
These regulations apply to travel arrangements booked on or after 1 July 2018, and sold or offered for sale in the UK.
If you have booked your travel arrangements separately (eg – a flight directly with an airline and a hotel through an accommodation booking website), you might have certain protection for the individual services in other ways – through travel insurance or through booking with your debit or credit card – but you should check with your providers as levels of protection vary.
Package holidays offer the greatest level of protection.
Whether you book your package holiday or linked travel arrangement via a website, in person or on the telephone, they should all provide the same information and the same protection for a package holiday and linked travel arrangement. The regulations apply to sales in the EU so if the package or linked travel arrangement is sold to you outside the EU you will not be entitled to the same protection.
Holidays booked through an ABTA travel company benefit from the ABTA offer: support, protection and expertise. This requires Members to comply with ABTA’s Code of Conduct and an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, that is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, if problems cannot be resolved.
Not all travel companies are ABTA Members, do check before you book so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve booked with a reputable company. You can check if a company is an ABTA Member at abta.com/abta-member-search.
A package holiday can come in many different forms and can be sold in different ways – from a ‘ready-made’ package (where the different travel services are put together for you by the travel company and offered at a single price) to many tailor-made trips (for example where you select different services from a range offered before paying for them together) – however they will all have the same level of financial and legal protection.
A package holiday is a combination of at least two different types of travel services, which are listed below:
It counts as a package holiday if your travel company:
|Examples of a package holiday|
|Examples of a package holiday with tourist services|
All package holidays booked with an ABTA Member are financially protected.
If your package holiday includes a flight you should be provided with an ATOL Certificate as soon as you have paid for your holiday.
If the package doesn't include a flight, you won’t receive an ATOL Certificate or ATOL confirmation, but you should receive a confirmation (likely via email) which shares the details of the company you booked through, the amount paid for the package and how your money is protected. ABTA is the largest provider of non-flight package protection in the UK.
A linked travel arrangement is a combination of at least two different types of travel services (listed below) – but it is how these travel services are sold which defines it as a linked travel arrangement.
Types of travel services covered by a linked travel arrangement:
It counts as a linked travel arrangement if your travel company sells it to you by:
Arranging the separate selection and separate payment of each of your travel services - such as a flight and accommodation - during a single visit (either to their shop, website or other point of sale). This means you will have separate contracts with the individual travel service providers.
Arranging for you to make a booking for one travel service (for example a flight) and then arranged for you to then be offered, in a targeted manner – such as through an email – another travel service from another trader (such as a car hire firm) which you then book less than 24 hours later.
A linked travel arrangement is not a package and doesn’t offer the same protection as a package.
A package offers both legal and financial protection, a linked travel arrangement just offers a level of financial protection, which will vary depending on how you bought your services (please see below for more information on what protection each arrangement has).
A package holiday has both financial and legal protection.
Legal protection means your travel company is responsible for making sure that you get the holiday you paid for. If something isn’t provided or isn’t as expected, and your travel company or its suppliers is at fault, they will need to sort this out for you – either resolving the issue, offering an alternative or providing a full or partial refund. In some instances you may be able to claim compensation.
Financial protection means that if the company you have booked with goes out of business, you will receive a refund if you are yet to travel, or be brought home if you are already on holiday and your package includes return transport.
All package holidays sold to you in the European Economic Area (EEA) by ABTA Members are financially protected.
|Examples of package holiday protection|
A linked travel arrangement only has financial protection – and this is at a lower level than if you bought a package holiday. The financial protection covers if the company that arranged it goes out of business, but only in respect of any money that company is holding; not if the actual travel service provider goes out of business, unless that company itself was the one that arranged the linked travel arrangement.
As there is no legal protection, under a linked travel arrangement, any complaints about the provision of the services must be directed to the service providers themselves.
|Examples of linked travel arrangement protection|
If you book all of your travel arrangements separately these are unlikely to have any financial or legal protection under the 2018 package travel regulations. However, you might have certain protection for the individual services in other ways – either through travel insurance or through booking with your debit or credit card. Please check with your providers as levels of protection vary.
Some ABTA Members do protect their non-package sales such as accommodation-only sales so when booking with an ABTA Member you should check this.
At the time of booking, your travel company must tell you whether your holiday is a package or a linked travel arrangement. However, please also refer to the above tell-tale signs earlier in the ‘overview’ section on what counts as a package holiday and a linked travel arrangement if you would like to understand their remits better.
No – you won’t be covered if your trip is less than 24 hours, unless you have overnight accommodation included in your package. However, where the trip includes an international flight, your money will be protected under the ATOL scheme.
Additionally some ABTA Members protect other services such as accommodation-only sales, so when booking with an ABTA Member you should check this.
You should receive a contract with the specific booking information about what you’ve been sold – such as your holiday dates, hotel accommodation, flight times, transfer details and the payment schedule.
You should also receive more general information – such as information on visas, travel insurance, passports, cancellation provisions and the booking conditions. Further to this, within the general information a list of the key rights under the Package Travel Regulations and a link or website address to the Package Travel Regulations should be provided.
If your package holiday includes a flight you should also be provided with an ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licence) Certificate as soon as you have paid for your holiday.
Companies should also provide information about whether the holiday is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility and, if you request it, precise information on the suitability of the holiday for you (which should take into account any of your required needs).
You must be given the following information:
You should be given information on where you can read the full Package Travel Regulations too. This will likely be via a link on the company website or through the Ts&Cs.
A company should only make a significant change to any part of your package for reasons beyond their control, e.g. the airline changes the flight to a day later or the hotel is closed due to hurricane damage.
In this case they will need to do the following:
If the significant change is made for reasons that are not beyond the travel company’s control they may need to offer you compensation.
They can do so if they include this caveat in their booking conditions, but they can only increase the price to negate certain costs, for example changes in the price of transport resulting from the cost of fuel; changes in taxes or fees imposed by third parties; or changes to exchange rates. This is known as a surcharge and they have to follow strict rules to see if they can ask you to pay the surcharge.
Unlike other travel companies, ABTA Members won’t pass on small price increases to you, as the Code of Conduct obliges them to absorb an amount equal to 2% of your holiday cost.
You must tell the holiday organiser as soon as you can if there is a problem, otherwise this will affects your rights if you don’t. They need to attempt to fix the problem within a reasonable time unless it’s impossible or it’ll entail a disproportionate cost to them.
If the problem is urgent and they refuse to help you can pay to fix the issue yourself and try to claim this cost back from your holiday organiser. However we would strongly recommend that you only do this in an emergency, and prioritise asking for help from your holiday organiser.
Where an ABTA Member and its customer are unable to resolve their differences through the company’s complaints process, ABTA provides an opportunity for the parties to have their dispute considered and managed through its arbitration or conciliation scheme. Both schemes are administered independently and are only available if your complaint is regarding an ABTA Member.
If you only do this occasionally, it is for a limited group of travellers and you aren’t making any profit from it the regulations do not apply to you but, of course, your friends’ money will be at risk.
The new regulations give customers the right to cancel where the incident significantly affects the performance of your holiday, so you can cancel your package holiday and receive a refund. Such situations will usually arise where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issues advice against travel to the destination.
However, please note, the mere existence of something, such as political unrest, doesn’t automatically significantly affect the package and therefore you won’t get an automatic refund if you cancel.
If you have booked your travel arrangements separately, or have a linked travel arrangement, and want to cancel you will be subject to the individual companies’ terms and conditions.