Highland Council Trading Standards - Travellers Consumer Rights Covid 19
Consumer rights may be affected by the spread of the virus by way of cancellation of flights, accommodation, package holidays and events. Here is a guide to consumers from Highland Council Trading Standards regarding travelling rights whether you have booked a flight or holiday abroad or have booked a staycation.
Flights suspended – where an airline suspends a flight, then the airline or travel company, is required to make arrangements for passengers to be returned to the UK as soon as practically possible. Travel advice is also available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
Flights delayed - where a flight has been delayed then the airline may also be obliged to provide assistance under EC Regulation 261/2004. The length of delay and the distance of the flight will reflect the level or assistance provided.
Flight cancellation – where a flight is cancelled a passenger can choose to have a refund of their ticket or be re-routed to their destination (at the earliest available opportunity). This can be with a different air carrier.
Assistance at the airport – where a passenger is waiting for their flight to be re-routed, they may also be entitled to assistance at the airport which includes; free meals and refreshments as well as 2 free phone calls/emails/faxes. In the event of the re-routing when the flight is the next day, free overnight accommodation with a transfer to and from the accommodation to the airport should be provided.
If an airline fails to help when required, then a passenger may need to pay and make a full claim afterwards. It is important that passengers keep their receipts so they can progress their claim for reimbursement when they get home.
Denied Boarding – where an airline has overbooked a flight, they may refuse to allow a passenger to board. The airline may initially ask for volunteers not to flight but will sometimes ‘bump’ people off the flight. Where a passenger is ‘bumped’ off the flight then they are entitled to compensation and a refund of the flight ticket/re-routing to the final destination and assistance at the airport.
These rights apply to passengers flying from an airport in the European Union (EU) on any airline or arriving at an EU airport on an EU airline.
Package Holidays - if the package holiday destination is on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) list of places where not to travel is advised, the consumer can change the date of travel; or destination or claim a refund. This information only applies if the destination is on the FCO list. Further information on consumer rights can be found under Package Travel Regulations. Cruises are also covered by these Regulations provided the cruise company is a business registered in the EU, Norway, Iceland or UK.
Flight and Hotel Booked Separately – where flights and hotels are booked separately, a consumer may only be able to claim the cost of the flight directly from the airline. Consumers should contact their hotel or accommodation provider to request a full refund and/or make a claim through their travel insurance.
Linked travel arrangements - is where consumers book one travel service on one website and the consumer are then invited to book another service through a link e.g car hire booking through a flight booking website. These “click-through” bookings will be considered as part of the original package as long as the traveller’s name, payment details and email address are transferred automatically between traders within 24 hours of the original sale being concluded. In these cases, the full protection for packages will apply.
Travel Insurance - consumers may have further protection under their travel insurance and so should contact their travel insurance provider to check that their cover applies. Most insurance policies do not cover ‘disinclination to travel’ so if a consumer does not want to travel to due to the spread of the Coronavirus and it is not a destination listed by the FCA then the consumer should contact their travel provider to request that their trip is delayed.
Events - If an event (such as a concert/musical or sporting event) is cancelled, then the normal cancellation process of the event organiser applies. If a consumer has purchased their ticket directly with the organiser or their official ticket seller, then they are likely to receive a refund, although booking fees and other costs may not be refunded. When booking through a third-party ticket seller a consumer may not receive a refund and consumers should check who they purchased the ticket from as well as terms and conditions.
Further protection from credit card company or bank – if a consumer has bought their travel, accommodation or event ticket using their credit card and the cost is over £100 then the consumer can make a ‘like claim’ against their credit card company under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if something goes wrong. E. g the event or travel etc gets cancelled by the provider. Where the amount is less than £100 and the consumer has paid by debit card then a consumer may be able to make a claim using chargeback rules. Chargeback rules are set by the banks and are not linked to any legal rights.
Further information on travel and other consumer rights relating to Coronavirus outbreak can found at: https://www.highland.gov.uk/info/20000/trading_standards/900/covid-19_scams_advice_and_guidance
Consumers wishing to speak to an Advisor can contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or email through their website at: https://consumeradvice.scot/contact-us/
Businesses based in the Highlands can contact Highland Council Trading Standards on telephone: 01349 886603 or email at: email@example.com.