Flight times changed by tour operator – bad experiences with “schauinsland-reisen”

I had one family for the Pentecost holiday package tour Booked in Egypt with schauinsland-reisen GmbH. The trip abroad must take place the day after the last day of school. The flight is already booked. The offer was cheap. After a few months, Corona regulations were relaxed and Egypt was no longer considered a high-risk area. After that, a significant increase in prices was observed for similar group flights. Prices almost doubled. The family was of course happy that they booked their flight early at a reasonable rate and can now look forward to a carefree vacation. They were even more shocked when they suddenly received an email briefly telling them that flight times had changed and that the entire flight was now forwarded for a full day. No reason or other explanation is attached. The tour operator clearly did not care about the travel of two school-age children, and therefore it was impossible to leave the day before.

So schauinsland-reisen GmbH was written by a lawyer and it was made clear that this disgraceful measure would not be accepted. A brief reply was received simply stating that the original flight no longer existed. However, the family has now been rebooked for another flight, effectively restoring the original flight times. Accordingly, the infamous voyage has been undone.

How is it here? legal situation? The Federal Court of Justice clarified its ruling of January 16, 2018 – X ZR 44/17. Unilateral changes to travel services by the tour operator is possible only if it is reasonable for the traveler, taking into account the interests of the tour operator. Changes only to services that do not alter the general character of the trip and are necessary due to circumstances occurring after the conclusion of the contract which were not known to the tour operator at the time of the conclusion of the contract and were not foreseen when the feasibility of properly planning the travel was ascertained are reasonable. It is clear that arbitrary change by the tour operator is not permitted. For this reason alone, you should be able to expect at least justification from the tour operator for any changes – even minor changes in flight times, otherwise it is not possible to check whether or not the permitted change requirements are met. Substantial changes without any justification are simply outrageous. In the event of significant changes in the travel service, the tour operator is obliged to make an offer of change to the customer. The customer is not obligated to accept this offer. At the same time, the tour operator can set a reasonable period of time for the traveler to object to the change. The offer is considered accepted only if there is no objection.

The tour operator may not arbitrarily make minor changes to the flight times. A justified reason is always required first. In addition, changes in flight times in the range of 4 to 5 hours have already been deemed unreasonable in case law. The customer does not have to accept the changes on a larger scale.

If the tour operator makes an unreasonable change before the start of the trip, the customer can withdraw from the contract in accordance with Article 651g BGB. The tour operator loses the right to pay for travel. Payments already made must be reimbursed by the Tour Operator immediately and within 14 days at the latest. In addition, the customer can claim damages in accordance with Article 651n BGB. This means that the customer can book an alternative flight and the original flight operator must pay the additional costs incurred for the replacement flight. If a similar alternative flight is not available, another flight with a different destination may also be considered (OLG Cologne, Judgment 19 July 2017 – 16 U 31/17).

As a result, the unreasonable change in flight times is not worth it for the tour operator. On the contrary – he has to pay compensation. However, it can be assumed that such cases, as with schauinsland-reisen, occur because tour operators hope that affected customers will not defend themselves against outrageous travel changes. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not accept these changes. The Tour Operator shall immediately be required to restore the original flight times or at least to ensure that changes are kept within reason. At the same time, the tour operator must be given a reasonable time and otherwise threaten to withdraw and compensate.

If you have a similar problem, we are happy to help and stand by one Free Initial Consultation to get rid of them. The costs of any other disputes with the tour operator are usually covered by the current list Legal protection insurance covered up.

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