Status: 07/25/2023 10:11 a.m
Forest fires like the one currently on Rhodes, earthquakes or the threat of terrorism: forces of nature and other events can thwart holiday planning. When can you cancel a booking? What applies during the trip?
According to the consumer advice center, the basic requirement for free cancellation is unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances. These apply if the holiday destination is affected by a crisis event that travelers and tour operators cannot control and the consequences of which could not have been avoided. These circumstances, also referred to as force majeure, include:
Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, forest fires, earthquakes and seaquakes as well as avalanches in the travel area, air traffic controllers’ strike, wars and widespread political unrest, serious outbreaks of dangerous diseases
Specific travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office are considered an indication that unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances exist and that there is a right to withdraw from the trip free of charge.
The location on site is also important, but the personal assessment of the traveler is irrelevant. For example, if a forest fire rages in another part of the holiday region and neither the airport nor the accommodation is affected, travelers cannot cancel free of charge.
Can a booked trip be canceled free of charge before the start?
If the holiday destination is directly affected during the travel time and by extraordinary circumstances, package holidaymakers can withdraw from the contract. The tour operator must then reimburse the travel price within 14 days without any deductions. The following applies to individual travelers: You do not have to pay for individual services such as flights or hotels if the service cannot be provided because the airspace or the location of the accommodation is blocked.
However, if the accommodation is accessible and habitable without risk, the service cannot be canceled free of charge. If you want to withdraw from the contract, you have to rely on the goodwill of the provider. In the event of catastrophes, many tour operators also offer free rebooking and cancellations if a trip is not directly and significantly affected.
Trip or flight cancelled: What rights do vacationers have?
If the tour operator or the airline cancels the trip, holidaymakers have a choice. If you find another suitable offer from the tour operator or airline, you can rebook and have the price of the canceled trip offset. Or they can have the price refunded within 14 days and can use it to reschedule.
During the trip: return journey and refunds
Anyone who has booked a package holiday and is directly affected, for example because the hotel has to be evacuated, is entitled to be flown home as soon as possible. The organizer must arrange for the return journey and bear any additional costs such as accommodation. The following applies to overnight stays: the price for the nights spent on site must be paid, the money for the remaining nights is returned. According to the ADAC, the tour operator is also obliged to support holidaymakers on site, for example when looking for other travel options.
If you have booked individually, you have to take care of individual travel services such as flights, hotels or holiday apartments yourself and cannot simply cancel them free of charge. For possible refunds of bookings, the jurisdiction of the respective country applies, for example with regard to deadlines. Vacationers should try to come to an agreement with the hotel operator or landlord. The consumer center provides sample letters for exceptional circumstances before and after departure for download.
Anyone who stays can reduce the travel price
If, despite adverse circumstances, you want to stay in the holiday region until your planned return trip and, for example, look for a new hotel in a location that is not affected, you may be able to reduce the original travel price by the services not provided. It is important to inform the organizer immediately and also to clarify whether the booked return flight will take place as planned.
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NDR Info | 07/25/2023 | 8:41 a.m