Even booked flights can be more expensive

Note to vacationers
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Booked group trips can get more expensive too

Vacations during times of high kerosene prices can quickly become more expensive. This also applies to group trips that have already been booked – or is it? It can help to look at the finer details.

Many people probably don’t realize this: tours that have already been booked can become more expensive later. What do vacationers need to know about this?

“A unilateral adjustment is set at eight percent,” says lawyer Hans-Josef Vogel from Dusseldorf. This means that if the regulator wants to increase prices by more than eight percent, the customer can pay the additional costs, but does not have to.

There is also a specification for unilateral adjustment by the regulator up to eight percent of the price, but there’s more on that below.

But will tour operators take advantage of that, for example in light of rising fuel costs? A survey of shipping companies conducted by the specialized portal “Reisevor9” at the beginning of May revealed that very few cruise operators were planning to pay the fuel surcharge. The reason for this survey was an announcement by Plantours, which charges extra for flights already booked, in part due to higher fuel costs.

But this is still the exception, emphasizes Christine Heinen of the German Travel Association (DRV). In their opinion, prices for group trips – regardless of whether they travel by plane, ship or bus – are fixed.

Changing prices is not so easy, says attorney Hans-Joseph Vogel. “The regulator may only increase prices if it expressly reserves the right to do so.” If you want to make sure the regulator is allowed to raise prices, you can’t avoid reading lowercase.

In the same way, such clauses also mean that prices should fall, on the contrary. For example, if the exchange rates change between the conclusion of the contract and the beginning of the trip and the tour operator bears lower costs. Therefore, according to a spokeswoman for DRV Heinen, most providers refrain from changing prices. In view of the complex calculations, the bureaucratic effort is not worth it.

If the organizer decides to transfer prices to customers, then there must be certain reasons: they include, for example, increased fuel or energy costs, which is the reason for the high cost of transportation.

The organizer must inform its clients in writing of the increase in the price of the booked flight at least 20 days before the start of the trip. Therefore, Carolina Wojtal of the European Consumer Center advises customers to monitor this period closely.

If the increase in the price of travel by up to eight percent occurs less than 20 days before the date of departure, vacationers do not have to accept this additional fee. You can then refuse to pay with reference to the legal situation, according to Consumer Advice Centers.

While timely price increases of up to eight percent must be accepted with the corresponding effective price change terms in the General Terms and Conditions, the situation is different for additional fees exceeding this limit.

According to Carolina Wojtal, in this case, regulators can “require the customer to accept the offer in order to increase prices within a reasonable time.” This is a matter of evaluating the interests of the client and the regulator. After all, the tour operator wants to resell the trip if the customer withdraws. But customers have a choice.

So you need to make a decision: during the period set by the organizer, you can either order an alternative flight equivalent to the previous price, or cancel the booked vacation for free. However, vacationers who completely ignore the message tacitly accept the price increase.

(dni/dpa)

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