TourMaG.com – What will be the fate of cancellations due to exceptional and unavoidable circumstances (CEI) from September 16?
Emmanuelle Llop: The Tourism Code – and more particularly its article L.211-14 – will find its application ” normal », That is to say that in the case, on the part of the traveler, of cancellation due to CEI occurring at his place of destination or in the immediate vicinity having significant consequences on his contract or his transport and, side of the professional, cancellation due to CEI preventing the execution of the contract, the customer will be entitled to reimbursement of the sums paid within 14 days.
So including if these CEIs are caused by the pandemic.
But of course, the requirement of proof of these CEIs for the relevant trip remains.
We still cannot cancel without cancellation penalties simply by ” fear “From the Covid or because you do not want to wear a mask during the flight (if you are the traveler) or because you have not fulfilled your capacities (if you are the professional) …
TourMaG.com – Exactly, what would happen if a traveler wishes to cancel their trip because they believe that the destination is not in control of the epidemic, despite open borders?
Emmanuelle Llop: Well, the client is not entitled to claim to analyze the policy for the management of the epidemic by the countries, nor to invoke it as a CEI to cancel their trip free of charge.
He will always have to prove that his contract is significantly impacted, factually.
If the country remains open, and the services are provided with the minimum of acceptable health measures (mask, test before departure, minor adjustments to services, etc.) so as not to affect the smooth running of the trip, such cancellation does not could only be received against payment of contractual cancellation penalties.
Of course, in all cases, if the agency and the TO like the client, manage to manage differently, with a postponement for example, nothing prevents it.
But we will no longer be within the limits of the Ordinance, especially in terms of price, which cannot be increased for “Ordinance” postponements. In this case, it would be a deal and a new contract, perhaps at a different price.
TourMaG.com – What if the company cancels the flight included in a package?
Emmanuelle Llop: As you know, the professional who sells a package is fully responsible for the proper performance of the contract vis-à-vis the traveler, including for the services provided by his partners.
Companies can cancel their flights as they wish, and without compensation until 14 days before departure, at least according to the Regulation 261/2004 ; they will of course only have to reimburse the non-stolen tickets if no re-protection flight is provided.
The cancellation of the flight is a twist that must lead the professional to warn the customer of the change and the possibilities of replacement, which the customer can refuse to prefer cancellation without charge.
The agency might also – if the fees are not too high at that time – prefer to cancel the package itself against payment of the ” mirror penalty “.
TourMaG.com – Imagine a worried customer who prefers to wait to see how the situation at the destination evolves and does not pay the balance for his trip: has his contract been canceled?
Emmanuelle Llop: In all travel contracts, it is mandatory to mention the payment schedule (article R. 211-4.4 ° of the Tourism Code). Payment is also the only obligation of the customer (apart from that of behaving well throughout the trip).
Very often, the Conditions of Sale of agencies and TOs specify that the non-payment of a deposit or the balance on the due date will be equivalent to the cancellation of the contract by the customer, with deduction of contractual costs (very often the sums already paid, at least).
Therefore, if a trip is maintained, the customer must respect the payment schedule or otherwise be deemed to have canceled his contract.
There is no risk for him in reality because if in the end the trip were to be canceled due to the pandemic, he will be reimbursed for his trip free of charge. Without forgetting that the whole is protected by the financial guarantee of the travel agency.
TourMaG.com – Finally, do you regret that the Ordinance is not extended after September 15, 2020?
Emmanuelle Llop: Sincerely, this text, obtained through a hard fight, thanks to the mobilization of professionals and unions from Les Entreprises du Voyage and SETO, was a real opportunity for the sector in order, I hope, to avoid chain failures while protecting the trips of travelers. consumers.
It is true that he was adopted when it was not known how long the epidemic would impact the sale of travel.
However, it seems to me that the duration of 6 months is already substantial and given the recent pressure from Europe regarding the compliance of the text with the Package Travel Directive, I think it is rather wise not to attempt the devil.
I am well aware of the anguish of professionals who are already struggling to secure departures (and cancellations) this summer and see the fall arrive without much change on the epidemic side.
The best solution is perhaps to process the end-of-year files now and before September 16, 2020, in order to assess their feasibility and possibly, opt for cancellations caused by the consequences of the epidemic and place themselves under the protection of the Ordinance.