Some of them are already making vacation plans for this summer. From the current perspective, it is not yet possible to foresee which trips and where will be possible. “Anyone who already books for the summer now runs the risk of the trip not being able to take place due to the uncertain situation caused by the corona,” says ÖAMTC lawyer Verena Pronebner.
Book a package tour: the best legal protection
“Basically the safest is to book a package tour – this is the best way to legally protect you in the event that the trip cannot be started or in the event of the organizer’s bankruptcy.” It can happen that the tour operator has to cancel the trip – but then you will get back the payments already made.
However, there is also a residual risk when booking a package tour: “If you ultimately decide against the trip because, for example, there are corona-related restrictions in the travel destination or you have health concerns, free cancellation may not be possible,” explains the lawyer of the mobility club. “A free cancellation of the trip could be refused by the organizer if a certain circumstance was already known at the time of booking the trip.” The argument could therefore be: At the time of booking, one had to expect that the corona pandemic could continue to rampant. A free cancellation could then only be granted because of new, extraordinary circumstances, e.g. B. after a natural disaster at the resort.
Have a free cancellation due to a pandemic assured in writing
“If you want to book in spite of the uncertain situation for the summer, you should definitely get a written assurance from the organizer that a free cancellation is possible due to the pandemic,” recommends ÖAMTC expert Pronebner. The down payment for package tours must not exceed 20 percent of the travel price when booking through Austrian tour operators (often 25 percent for German tour operators). Additional payments may only be accepted by the organizer if the travel documents are handed over at the same time, from which the claims of the customer emerge and not earlier than 20 days before the start of the journey.
Individual travel: what is important when booking a hotel or flight
If you only want to book a hotel in Germany or abroad, you must pay attention to the respective cancellation conditions. “Here, too, when booking for this year, it is advisable to make an individual agreement with the accommodation provider that ‘corona-related’ can be canceled free of charge until shortly before arrival,” advises the ÖAMTC lawyer. “Local businesses are often very accommodating in this regard.” The question of whether there is a right to free cancellation, for example if the accommodation is not allowed to accommodate tourists or the hotel guest is not allowed to travel due to corona-related measures, is always based on the law of the state in which the accommodation is located. In Austria, a free cancellation would be possible in these cases.
“If you only want to book one flight, it can be more difficult: A free ticket cancellation is then not certain. Basically, you have booked a safe and largely punctual transport to the desired destination, but not the problem-free stay on site”, states the ÖAMTC Lawyer of course. It should also be noted that there is still no protection against airline insolvency and therefore booking and paying for the flight early can be risky for the traveler. This also applies to hotels and other accommodation providers.
ÖAMTC provides legal advice and travel information
If you have any questions, the ÖAMTC legal advisors are available to club members free of charge – all information at www.oeamtc.at/rechtsberatung. All current regulations regarding entry and exit regulations for Austria and the whole of Europe can be found in the holiday service of the mobility club: www.oeamtc.at/urlaubsservice.