SITUATION: CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19
Due to the current Covid-19 situation, some trips can no longer be undertaken as planned.
European Union (EU) commitments in the area of package holidays are notably aimed at providing a high level of protection for travellers.
Travellers are legally protected and entitled to compensation in matters related to pre-contractual information, modifications of the travel contract prior to its execution, or non-compliance during the performance of the contract.
Travellers are also protected in the case of insolvency of the travel agency. They are also guaranteed repatriation if needed.
All disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility are covered by this legislation.
Anyone may choose to book a trip in the form of:
- a package holiday or holiday stay;
- an associated travel arrangement.
In terms of their organisation, both package holidays and associated travel arrangements are categorised as holiday-related services. These services include:
- the transportation of passengers;
- accommodation which:
- is not included in the transportation;
- does not have a residential purpose;
- car rentals (category-B driver's licence) or motorcycle rentals (category-A driver's licence);
- any other tourism-related services that are an essential characteristic of the traveller's trip.
Who is concerned
Any person wishing to travel may enter into a package-holiday contract, either for themselves or for another person entitled to travel.
Travellers' trips do not fall within the scope of package-holiday services if they:
- last less than 24 hours, unless an overnight stay is included in the trip;
- are organised on an occasional and not-for-profit basis for a limited group of travellers;
- are business trips.
A traveller may enter into a contract for a package-holiday service:
- directly with the organiser of the package holiday; or
- with a trader.
How to proceed
Observance of travellers' rights
Observance of the right to information
The organiser/trader must provide the traveller with information which is:
The organiser must provide the traveller with information on the main features of the travel services. Such information may also be provided by the trader.
This information is provided on a form, which is not a table with checkboxes. The form is a standardised information list, with sentences to be adapted according to the identity of the parties to the contract and to the identity of the travel guarantor.
The information that must be provided includes:
- details on the organisation of the trip, and specifically:
- the destination(s), itinerary and lengths of stay, including the dates and, if accommodation is included, the number of overnight stays;
- the means, characteristics and categories of transportation, the locations, dates and times of departure and return, the duration and location of stops and connections. If the exact time is not yet set, the tour operator must inform the traveller of the approximate times of departure and return;
- the services included in the package, and specifically:
- the location, main characteristics and, where applicable, the tourist category of the accommodation in accordance with the laws of the destination country;
- any meals that will be provided;
- any tours, excursions or other services included in the total price of the package deal agreed upon;
- the means of communication of the information, namely:
- whether the travel services are offered to the traveller as a member of a group, and, in that case, the approximate size of the group, if known;
- the language in which the services will be provided;
- whether the trip or holiday stay is suited, overall, to persons with reduced mobility;
- at the traveller's request, precise information on whether the trip or holiday stay is suited to the traveller's needs;
- the company name and geographic address of the organiser and/or trader, as well as their phone number and, where applicable, their email address;
- the price and possible means of payment, and specifically:
- the total price of the package, including taxes and, where applicable, all fees, charges or other additional costs or, if these cannot reasonably be calculated before the conclusion of the contract, an indication of the type of additional costs that the traveller may have to pay;
- the terms and conditions of payment, including the amount or percentage of the price to be paid as a deposit, and the schedule for payment of the balance, or the financial guarantees to be paid or provided by the traveller;
- the quota of travellers required for the package to go ahead, and the deadline for cancellation of the contract before the commencement of the trip if that number is not reached;
- the relevant conditions in terms of passports and visas, including the approximate time it will take to obtain the required visas;
- information on the health requirements for the destination country;
- a statement specifying that the traveller may terminate the contract at any time before the start of the trip, upon payment of appropriate cancellation fees or, where applicable, standard cancellation fees which may be claimed by the organiser;
- information concerning compulsory or optional insurance covering cancellation fees if the contract is terminated by the traveller, or concerning the cost of assistance, covering repatriation in the event of an accident, illness or death.
Right to information once the contract has been entered into
The contract is entered into when the traveller accepts the package at the agreed price. The pre-contractual information then becomes a fully integral part of the contract.
Should any modifications need to be made to the package, the organiser or trader must inform the traveller before executing the contract.
Content of contract given to the traveller
The traveller must be provided with a copy or confirmation of the contract on a long-lasting medium. Travellers can request a paper copy if the contract was concluded in the physical presence of the traveller and organiser/trader.
The contract must mention:
- the pre-contractual information;
- the traveller's specific requirements that have been accepted by the tour operator;
- the following statements:
- the tour operator is fully responsible for the proper execution of all travel services included in the package;
- the organiser must provide the traveller with aid if the latter is in trouble;
- the name of the organisation providing insolvency protection, together with its contact details, including its geographic address, or the name and contact details of the competent authority appointed in the specific EU member state as a guarantee fund, or an insurance company appointed or chosen to handle cases of insolvency;
- the name, address, telephone number, email address and, where applicable, fax number of the tour operator's local representative, a point of contact or another service through which the traveller can quickly get in touch with the tour operator and communicate effectively with them, request help if they (the traveller) are in difficulty, or lodge a complaint in the event of any non-compliance during the execution of the package trip;
- the traveller is obliged to report any nonconformity they detect in the execution of the contract;
- when minors, unaccompanied by a parent or other authorised person, are travelling under a package-holiday contract that includes accommodation, information on establishing direct contact with the minor, or with the person responsible for them at the place where the minor is staying;
- information concerning the internal procedures in place to deal with complaints and about the mechanisms for settling disputes out of court;
- the traveller's right to transfer their contract to another traveller.
Modification of the price of the package holiday before its start
There are 3 circumstances in which the organiser may alter the price:
- the package includes a form of transport whose cost depends on that of a particular fuel or other energy source;
- the level of taxes and duties depends on a third party to the contract, who decides to change them;
- the price of the package is based on an exchange rate, which changes.
The organiser must inform the traveller of any mark-up in price:
- in clear and understandable terms;
- along with a justifiable reason and a calculation;
- on a long-lasting medium;
- at least 20 days before departure.
Modification of other clauses in the package contract before the start of the trip
The organiser may not modify the terms of the contract, unless:
- the tour operator has reserved the right to do so in the contract;
- it is only a minor change;
- the traveller has been informed of such a change by the organiser in clear, understandable and obvious terms;
- the organiser has provided the traveller with such information on a long-lasting medium.
The organiser must inform the traveller in a timely manner to allow them a reasonably amount of time to reflect on how to respond. The traveller may then:
- accept the proposed modification;
- terminate the contract without having to pay any cancellation fees. Should the contract be terminated, the organiser must refund all payments made by the traveller within 14 days of the termination.
In informing the traveller of the proposed change, the organiser must alert the traveller to the contractual consequences of their failing to respond.
Transfer of the package to another traveller
A traveller may transfer their package holiday to another traveller within a reasonable period prior to its execution.
In that case, if the organiser incurs any additional costs impacting on the package, they must inform the new traveller of those additional costs.
There is a limit to the allowable additional costs. They must not be unreasonable, and must not exceed the true cost of the transfer of the package.
The organiser must prove to the new traveller that the additional costs are genuine, without the new traveller having to ask for such information.
In the event of non-payment, the transferor and transferee are jointly responsible to the organiser:
- for paying the balance or the price for the trip/stay;
- for any additional expenses;
- any charges and other possible additional costs occasioned by the transfer.
Cancellation of the trip by the organiser
The organiser may cancel the trip before the start of the contract. In that case, any and all payments made by the traveller must be fully reimbursed by the organiser.
The traveller may claim additional compensation from the organiser. However, the organiser is under no obligation to pay any additional compensation if:
- the number of travellers that signed up for the package is less than the minimum required number provided for in the contract;
- the organiser informs the traveller of the cancellation of the trip:
- 20 days before the start of the trip, if the trip lasts more than 6 days;
- 7 days before the start of the trip, if the trip lasts between 2 and 6 days;
- 48 hours before the start of the trip, if the trip lasts fewer than 2 days.
The traveller is not entitled to any additional compensation if the trip is cancelled due to exceptional and unavoidable circumstances. However, the organiser must notify the traveller of the cancellation as soon as possible before the date on which the trip was scheduled to start.
Withdrawal by the traveller
The traveller may cancel their trip at any time prior to the start of the contract.
The organiser may ask the traveller to pay any reasonable and justifiable cancellation costs.
The traveller shall not be liable for any cancellation fees if their withdrawal is as a result of exceptional and unavoidable circumstances occurring in the immediate vicinity of the destination, or if such circumstances prevent the execution of the package or the transportation of the passengers.
Protection of travellers during the package holiday
The organiser is responsible for providing the services included in the package even if they sub-contract the services to other providers.
In the event of non-conformity, the tour operator shall be deemed liable. They must remedy any such shortcomings, unless:
- it is impossible for them to do so;
- the cost of doing so is disproportionate given the non-conformity at issue or the value of the travel services affected.
If the organiser is able to remedy the non-conformity, they must take action within a reasonable period of time.
If the organiser fails to remedy the non-conformity, the traveller may:
- remedy the non-conformity themselves;
- claim a refund of any expenses incurred.
If the non-conformity disrupts a significant portion of the travel services, the organiser must offer to provide other services of equal or better quality to enable the package holiday to proceed. In such cases, the traveller may not be charged any additional costs by the organiser.
The organiser may not refuse to allow the traveller to cancel the trip if:
- the non-conformity considerably disrupts the execution of the trip;
- the organiser does not rectify the problem within a period of time set by the traveller.
If the organiser is unable to offer an alternative service, or if the traveller refuses the proposed alternative, then the organiser must:
- reduce the price of the package; or
- compensate the traveller; or
- reduce the price of the package and compensate the traveller as well.
If the non-conformity shortens the duration of the trip, the traveller must be repatriated without delay, at the organiser's expense.
If the organiser cannot repatriate the traveller due to exceptional and unavoidable circumstances, then the organiser must bear the cost of accommodating the traveller in an establishment of the same category as that originally included in the package, for up to 3 nights.
Recourse against the organiser
Points of contact prior to pursuing a court case
Consumers can obtain information and assistance from:
- the Luxembourg Consumer Association (Union Luxembourgeoise des consommateurs – ULC) in the event of a dispute between a consumer and a Luxembourg-based package-holiday service provider;
- the European Consumer Centre (ECC Luxembourg), in the case of a cross-border consumer dispute, i.e. a dispute between a consumer and a package-holiday service provider located in another European Union Member State.
Filing a claim
In addition to filing a complaint with the organiser or professional directly, the traveller may also take the matter before the Luxembourg Commission for Travel Litigation (Commission luxembourgeoise des litiges de voyage – CLLV), which is the mediator responsible for resolving travellers' complaints.
The CLLV's mission is to seek to reconcile the parties. If the reconciliation fails, the CLLV issues a written legal opinion, based on the principle of equity. However, that opinion is not legally binding: it imposes no obligation whatsoever on the parties, but the moral authority it carries may suffice to resolve the dispute. If the decision is contested, the parties may still take the case to court.
Should the organiser fail to meet their contractual obligations, the traveller must seek redress through the competent civil court in the consumer's place of residence. In Luxembourg, this may be:
- a magistrate's court; or
- a district court.
The applicable law is that of the country where the consumer is normally resident.