Vacation package or flexible travel: What to do in case of a dispute?

Before you go on vacation, you need to plan your trip. Photo: VZ NRW / Adpic

Dusseldorf. Summer is vacation time: many people use the warm months to travel, and things don’t always go as planned.

Whether it is an all-inclusive on the Mediterranean, a holiday apartment on the Baltic Sea or a half-board in the mountains: the desire to travel has renewed among many people and the tourism industry is setting record sales.

It is not always easy to keep track of the large number of offers. The finer details should also be read carefully before booking.

“The law provides more rights for group trips than for individually booked trips,” says Jan-Philippe Stubnanek, attorney and travel law expert at NRW’s Consumer Advice Center. “Anyone who books travel, accommodation and other services individually must assert their rights individually with each provider in the event of problems.”

The NRW Consumer Advice Center explains with the following tips what to look for when planning a vacation and what are the advantages and disadvantages of different booking models:

All-inclusive package

If you want to spend less time planning a trip, you can do a lot right with a package tour. This is a “package” of at least two different types of travel services, such as a flight and a hotel, that are booked with one provider.

Advantage: In case of problems, travelers usually have one local contracting partner. In the event of legal disputes, the organizer can be held liable at the headquarters of his company, where German law applies.

In addition, the tour operator is obligated to obtain bankruptcy insurance. This ensures that consumers will be reimbursed for payments made prior to departure in the event the provider goes bankrupt. They will also be repatriated if bankruptcy occurs during the trip.

Travel with flexibility and independence

If you want to plan your vacation according to your individual preferences and want to be as flexible as possible, you can book travel, accommodation and the like individually and conclude contracts with different service providers accordingly.

If there are problems with the flight, those affected should contact the respective service providers individually. Then they are liable if they cannot provide the services as agreed. In the event of a legal dispute with the provider, the place where legal action can be taken and the applicable law should first be ascertained.

For example, the law of the state in which the hotel or vacation home is located applies to individually booked accommodations. Another important difference to the package tour: There is no legal protection for insolvency.

Difficult responsibilities in Internet portals

Online portals such as Opodo, Swoodoo, fluege.de or Kiwi.com are generally only intermediaries for flights or other tourist travel services. The contracting partner is the respective service provider, such as an airline.

If the flight consists of different legs from different airlines, this usually means that a contract has been entered into with each of these airlines – even if it looks like a single booking on the booking portal. Many travelers don’t realize this and providers often take advantage of this ignorance. Passengers are shoved back and forth between brokers and the airline, no one seems to be responsible, and getting airfares back takes weeks.

Another drawback: If the flight is canceled on a leg and you are unable to make your connecting flights, you will be charged. It remains only to claim the taxes and fees paid.

Flight delays, cancellations, transfers or overbooks plus problems with your baggage: The Flugärger app is a self-help tool for convenient and free claims calculation and confirmation with the airline. Information at: www. Verbraucherzentrale.de.

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