Terror and natural disasters

Update, 09.10.2017

 

In the Carribean and the US, hurricanes are currently causing chaos and destruction, while forest fires rage in California. A massive earthquake hit Mexico, a volcano is about to erupt in Bali, and a storm temporarily stopped public transportation in Northern Germany. All those natural phenomena pose an unpredictable danger and concern tourists. After the terror attacks in Barcelona and London, those events now affect long-distance journeys and make them apparently more risky. We advise consumers to stay calm and carefully read the following information.

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Update, 18.08.2017:

 

An attack in the Spanish metropole Barcelona cost the lifes of 13 people, many more got injured. The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The IS claimed responsibility, although much is still unclear. The assassin who rushed a van over pedestrians, is currently on the run. The following legal tips are also valid for this new attack.

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Update, 20.06.2017:

 

Last night in London, a man drove into a crowd of Muslims standing in front of their preaching house. It is the third attack in a few weeks: There was a similar one at the Tower Bridge and one in Manchester, during a concert of US singer Ariana Grande.

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Naturally, frightened consumers now turn to the ECC, because they plan a trip and are unsure whether or not they should do it. On behalf of the Ministry (BMASK), we provide free advice on "Danger at destination". Many consumers want to know if they can withdraw from the journey free of charge.

 

The most important questions:

  1. When did you book the trip?
  2. When will you go?
  3. What is your exact destination?
  4. Is it a package travel or did you book flight, hotel and other services individually?

Ad 1: When did you book the trip?

 

If you booked the trip after one of the above mentioned attacks or natural disasters took place, reasoning becomes difficult. Your contractual partner (travel agency, airline etc.) will likely say that you already knew about the intensified safety situation when you decided upon the destination.

 

In order to request a withdrawal free of costs, it is often crucial whether the danger was unpredictable. In troubled times like now, it is questionable, where and when a terror attack can still be seen as unpredictable. Hurricane season comes every year in the US and Carribean, eventhough it is very fierce this time. Mexico is a known earthquake region. The assessment of those situations is therefore a juristic gray area.

 

Ad 2: When will you go?

 

The trip will be in a few weeks or even months? Your chances on a withdrawal free of costs are much better if you already travel tomorrow. In most cases, a close temporal connection is another precondition for an agreement with your contractual partner.

 

Ad 3: What is your exact destination?

 

The attacks in London and Manchester don’t present a reason for withdrawal, if your journey will be to Edinburgh or other, rather far cities in the UK. The situation of danger can be very different in the various parts of the country. On the website of the Foreign Ministry, you can find specific information about the safety situation in all regions.

 

Ad 4: Is it a package travel or did you book flight, hotel and other services individually?

 

From a juristic point of view, your chances are much better with a package travel than just a booked flight. If the risk is not directly at the airport and it operates normally, it doesn't affect your transportation. That means: If you only booked a flight, your contractual partner – the airline – can transport you to your destination and therefore fulfill the contract.

 

A package travel covers not only the flight, but also the stay at the destination, e.g. in the hotel. Accommodation is a substiantal part of the contract. Therefore, you have a much better basis for argumentation towards your contractual partner, the tour operator.

 

In every case, it is helpful to collect trustworthy media reports that document the danger at your destination. They will further underline your arguments.

 

Please note: Nobody can force you to travel. You always have the possibility to cancel the trip and pay the respective charges. Carefully read the conditions in your contract – the fees for cancellation often increase as the departure date approaches. You therefore need to evaluate if you want to wait and see how the situation at your destination develops, or if you want to cancel at a lower price.

 

You have more questions?

 

We are happy to help – free of charge and with comprehensive information!

Please also use our sample letters (in German language):

For further information about your rights regarding danger at destination, we recommend the following article: Crisis, war, terrorism