Flight cancellations, quarantine risk, a possible new lockdown at the travel destination: the vacation takes place this summer under difficult conditions. The form of travel also determines how secure tourists are in an emergency.
Holidays with a return guarantee
“With a package tour you are generally better protected”, says Julia Rehberg from the Hamburg Consumer Center.
Particularly important: In the event of a crisis, the tour operator is obliged to bring the guest back to Germany – at his own expense. The vacationer pays nothing extra for this.
In the past, organizers brought their package guests back to Germany several times, for example in the event of political unrest – for example, from Egypt when the 2011 revolution broke out. Also in the corona pandemic, some organizers are now advertising the “return promise” – which is simply required by the package travel law .
However, if you book individually, you can be stuck if the airline cancels your flights due to exceptional circumstances. Travelers then often have to pay for alternative flights out of their own pockets. “The organizer has to take care of my return transport here,” emphasizes Rehberg. In case of doubt, individual travelers are unlucky: “It may be that the airline leaves me in the rain.”
In view of Corona, for example, Lufthansa had now announced that it would guarantee that passengers would be returned, for example if the virus broke out again at the destination and threatened quarantine. How this can work in practice remains to be seen.
Rebooking in the event of airline bankruptcy
Another advantage of the package tour: If the airline suddenly goes bankrupt, the organizer will take care of an alternative transport at no extra charge for the holidaymaker. This was the case, for example, with Air Berlin’s bankruptcy, when tens of thousands of passengers were suddenly stuck. Anyone who booked their flight ticket directly with the airline lost their money.
In the case of a package tour, the holidaymaker is protected against the insolvency of the provider, which is guaranteed by the security certificate. In the past, however, this system failed: When Thomas Cook went bankrupt, the sum insured of 110 million euros was insufficient. The state had to step in and with it the taxpayer.
That should not happen again: The federal government wants to protect travelers in the event of bankruptcy with a fund in the future. Only tour operators who pay into this common pot should offer package tours in the future.
Money back for travel shortages
Package holidaymakers can also claim travel defects and get back part of the money if promised services are not performed. Example: The hotel doesn’t have a pool or childcare. Or construction noise makes recovery impossible. The tour guide of the organizer is the first point of contact here.
If the problem is not solved, a German organizer can be sued in a German court. “As an individual traveler, I have to deal directly with the hotel,” says Rehberg – which can be difficult in a Spanish, Greek, or Italian vacation spot.
Refunds – light and shadow
If the organizer has to cancel a trip, as happened thousands of times this year, he has to pay the money back. In many cases, however, this did not happen at all or was very hesitant, as consumer advocates complained. However, many airlines were no better: They also have to reimburse the ticket price if they are unable to fly – but many passengers are still waiting to get the money back for canceled flights.