FAQ Coronavirus

You will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions we are currently receiving from Austrian citizens about the coronavirus and traveler rights on this page. We have deliberately kept it short in order to provide you with the simplest and clearest assistance possible. All eventualities of a case and legal details are therefore not shown here.

You can find further Austrian institutions giving advice on travel matters here. The BMK also collects relevant information on corona regulations in a condensed form on this blog page.

World map with red marked countries of the highest travel warning level as of 20 December 2020 World map of the Austrian Foreign Ministry with almost all states of the world marked in red with the highest travel warning level (6) of 20 December 2020  |  Image: Gabriel/BMEIA

IMPORTANT

Are you planning a trip abroad? But who actually knows where you are exactly in the event of a crisis and how best to reach you?

Simply register online - so that the Austrian representation abroad can better support you in case of an emergency.

Intended future travel to a risk area

1.

I have booked a trip to a country for which a travel warning has been announced by the Foreign Ministry or has already been declared. The trip is to take place in the future. What do I have to consider, can I cancel free of charge?

 

Pictogram about "Future event"

Future event

PACKAGE TRAVEL: It depends on the time of the booking and travel. If the departure is imminent and is to take place in about a week, we believe that you can legally argue that there is now an official travel warning according to the Austrian Foreign Ministry and that you therefore wish to withdraw from the package tour contract free of charge, if it was not possible to forsee that.

If the trip is to take place later than in about a week, it is legally unclear whether you can withdraw from the contract now free of charge. The further away the departure is, the less likely it is. Nevertheless, we recommend contacting the tour operator or possibly the travel agency and clarifying whether an amicable solution can be found.

INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL (hotel / apartment / travel by train, bus, ship etc.) Contact the company and ask whether an amicable solution can be found here. These contracts are generally subject to the national law of the country of travel. Part of the contract is only the accommodation / transport service and as long as the hotel is open and remains open or as long as the regular service etc. is maintained, the company can fulfil its part of the contract.

If a travel warning by the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been issued or announced, we recommend arguing with it. There is no clear legal entitlement to reimbursement. Only the courts can ultimately decide whether there is a chance of reimbursement in this case.

INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL (flight) Clarify whether the flight is still taking place! If not, you have the right to claim the costs back, as the airline cannot fulfil the contract as booked. If so, we recommend asking the airline and/or the agent for an amicable solution. Once you have not booked directly with the airline, many airlines will refer you to the agent for all enquiries. This is very annoying, but cannot be changed out of court.

Airlines have the option in their general terms and conditions to choose whether the law of the country in which either the airline or the consumer is based applies. If no applicable law is agreed, the law of the country where the consumer has his habitual residence applies if the place of departure or destination is also located there. If this is not the case either, the law of the country where the airline has its habitual residence shall apply.

Part of the contract is only the conveyance itself - it is not part of the contract that I can enter or stay in the country. The airline did not promise you that in the contract. As long as the airports themselves are open and remain open, airlines can fulfil their part of the contract. Austria has now issued an official travel warning and we recommend arguing with this.
From a legal point of view, however, it is unclear whether this argument can be used to cancel the contract free of charge. If the airline is not prepared to reimburse the costs, we do not see any chance of enforcing this out of court (this will have to be clarified by a court). You at least have the right to get a partial refund of the taxes and fees if the flight takes place and you do not use it.

Package Travel

When is it a package holiday? If you book both services at a package price, without a breakdown of the individual items in the total amount to be paid, it is a package holiday. Your contractual partner is the tour operator and has invoiced you for various travel services such as accommodation and travel, excursions, rental cars or entrance tickets.

 

Piktogram about "Package Holidays"

Package Holidays

2.

I had booked a package holiday for the summer with a tour operator and paid a deposit. The hotel on site confirmed to me before departure that it was closed.
The flights were cancelled by the airline.
The tour operator still demands a cancellation fee because I would not have made the final payment and was therefore in breach of contract.
Do I have to pay the cancellation fee?

Since in your case the booked services could not be provided (closed hotel, cancelled flights), the tour operator may not charge a cancellation fee - if this was already known at the time of the final payment and you had not already cancelled yourself.
A cancellation fee is to be regarded as lump-sum compensation. As long as the tour operator does not incur any damage, a cancellation fee is therefore not permissible. You do not have to pay it and can demand the refund of the deposit.

3.

I have booked a hotel and a flight or a boat, bus or train journey as a package holiday. I am supposed to travel within the next 7 days. Can I cancel free of charge?

  • Yes - if the destination is suprisingly very badly affected by the virus, making it unreasonable to go there.
  • Yes - if I am officially banned from entering that country or would have to go into immediate quarantine. However, this may also depend on the "foreseeability" at the time of booking (see below for more information).
  • No - if the destination is not severely affected.

4.

I have booked a hotel and a flight or a boat, bus or train journey as a package holiday. I am due to travel in a few weeks/months. Can I cancel free of charge?

If you cancel now, there is a cancellation fee. However, the earlier you cancel, the lower the cancellation fee. If it is unacceptably dangerous at the destination shortly before the start of the trip, or if the tour operator even cancels the trip on its own initiative, you may have paid the cancellation fee pointlessly. In these cases you could have cancelled free of charge and it is legally unclear whether you can then claim back a previously charged cancellation fee.
Whether you can cancel free of charge also depends on the type of trip (party trip/music festival or family holiday) and cannot be answered conclusively due to the lack of current supreme court rulings.

  • According to the old legal situation, a free cancellation was only possible one week before the start of the trip, if the situation could not be foreseen at the time of booking.
  • According to the current legal situation, it depends on whether there is a considerable probability that the trip will be significantly impaired (no case law according the timeframe and the predictabilityavailable yet).
  • If it is already clear that the trip definitely cannot take place because, for example, a 1-month entry ban has been imposed, you can already cancel free of charge in any case.

5.

Do I have to accept a voucher after a free cancellation?

No, if you had the right to withdraw free of charge (see above), then you are basically entitled to money. If it was goodwill, a voucher is fine.

However, due to the Corona pandemic, some countries have enacted special laws that allow companies to offer vouchers - for example in Italy. It must therefore be checked in each individual case which law applies and what the legal situation is in the respective country. Another problem is that these national laws regarding vouchers contradict the Package Travel Directive.

6.

I have made a deposit for my package holiday / hotel booking.ch am now unsure whether my trip will take place and doubt whether the company can even provide the service in this difficult situation. Do I have to pay the outstanding balance at all?

It is usually agreed that clients pay about 20% of the price and the rest shortly before departure in order to receive the travel documents. Since you have concluded a valid contract, you must always pay the balance as long as it is not certain that the trip cannot be carried out. Clarify whether you will receive the travel documents immediately after payment. The law requires tour operators of package tours to have insurance against insolvency. Ask the travel company about this. If it becomes known after your booking and before you have paid the remaining amount that the financial situation of the travel company/hotel is at risk, you have the right to refuse payment - and thus the consideration - for the time being (plea of uncertainty according to § 1052 sentence 2 ABGB).

7.

I have booked hotel+flight/bus/train as a package tour. I am allowed to enter the country, but must immediately go into quarantine for several days. Can I cancel free of charge? 

Yes, the package tour cannot be carried out as booked. A quarantine of several days is a substantial change. The prerequisite is, of course, that the mandatory quarantine applies on the date of your planned arrival. If this is still unclear, you would have to wait or cancel with costs.

8.

I booked a package tour with sightseeing. But they are all already closed. Can I cancel free of charge?

Yes, the package tour cannot be carried out as booked.

9.

I have booked a round trip or cruise. The itinerary has to be changed because of the Corona virus. Do I have to accept this?

If it is a significant change, no. Reply to the tour operator in writing within the set time limit that you do not accept the new itinerary and that you are therefore withdrawing free of charge.

10.

I was on a package holiday abroad in March. The return flight was cancelled at short notice due to the Corona pandemic. The tour operator could not organise the early return home. I then contacted the Austrian embassy, which organised a return flight for me, for which I had to pay 200 euros per person. Can I claim back these costs?

Yes. In the case of a package tour, the responsibility for the return transport in such a case lies with the organiser. In this case, the Republic of Austria has only stepped in for this omission, so to speak.
You therefore have a claim for reimbursement against the tour operator.

11.

Our longer round trip abroad was cut short after a few days because of the Corona crisis. Now I am being offered compensation of a few hundred euros as a voucher. Is that legal?

One thing is clear: You do not have to accept a voucher, you are entitled to an aliquot refund of the travel price. If the amount seems too low, you should check whether the amount offered is correct. In any case, the basis for calculation is the total price including the flight. 

12.

I would like to book an extremely cheap offer for a beach holiday in winter / spring. Is there anything against it? 

The situation is generally quite uncertain with regard to travel warnings, entry and exit regulations and quarantine orders. Anyone booking a trip now is taking a certain risk. There is a lot to be said for booking at short notice in the coming months and always keeping a close eye on the cancellation conditions. Many tourism companies have now relaxed the usual cancellation conditions or advertise free cancellation options.

13.

I live in Austria, am an Austrian citizen and have booked a package holiday with a German tour operator. 1 week before departure, according to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, there is a travel warning for my holiday country, according to the German Foreign Ministry there is not - can I cancel free of charge?  

Again and again we receive similar enquiries where, for example, German tour operators refuse a free cancellation in such cases and argue that the German government has not issued a travel warning. The tour operator is from Germany and therefore what the Foreign Ministry from Germany says should apply. The fact that you live in Austria, are an Austrian citizen, booked from Austria and that the organiser knew all these facts by providing your details when you booked, means that the organiser has to accept responsibility for this. We are of the legal opinion that the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for your safety and that the organiser of the package tour has to abide by what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country the consumer comes from says. In our opinion, one can therefore argue in such cases according to § 10 para 2 of the Package Travel Act that one can withdraw from the package free of charge. It is not clear so far, if the foreseeability at the time of the booking can play a role.

14.

Am I still covered against insolvency of the tour operator for package tours in 2021, or have there been changes due to Corona?

In the EU, there is the Package Travel Directive (Directive 2015/2302) which was implemented in Austria in the Package Travel Act and the Package Travel Ordinance. These laws have not been amended and therefore it is still the case that a tour operator needs cover in case it cannot provide its services as a result of insolvency.

Conveyance contract

You have booked bus or train tickets, ferry, liner or airline tickets with a transport company and now Corona is throwing a spanner in the travel plans. If you have booked a cruise, you will find your answers in the upper package travel segment, as cruises provide a combined service (accommodation, transport, excursions). 

 

Pictogram about "Passenger transport"

Passenger transport

For package tour operators, however, it was more difficult to find insurance to cover the risk for 2021 due to the Corona pandemic - especially because a major insurer withdrew at the end of 2020. As a transitional solution, tour operators have the option of taking out insolvency protection in 2021 through the Österreichische Hotel- und Tourismusbank GmbH (ÖHT) within the framework of a guarantee contract. In summary, this means that there is still insolvency protection for consumers when a package tour has been or is being booked.

If you have not yet paid a deposit for your booked trip and this is now being demanded, we advise you to be attentive. If there is now a new insurer (e.g. ÖHT), we assume that outstanding deposits may only be demanded in the amount of 20%. More may only be demanded 20 days before the start of the trip. If you are asked to pay more, we advise you to be careful and to clarify exactly what the conditions of the insolvency insurer of your package tour operator are and how high the percentage is that is covered in case of an emergency.

15.

I booked flights through an online flight booking platform. The airline cancelled the flights due to the pandemic. I have been waiting for my money for months. The airline refers me to the travel agency, the travel agency refers me back to the airline, no payment is made... Is this allowed?

According to Art. 8 of the Air Passenger Rights Regulation, the airline has to pay back the flight costs to you within 7 days in this case. Despite this short deadline, many consumers are still waiting for their money. If you have paid by credit card or an online payment service such as Paypal, we advise you to contact the credit card company/online payment service and request a chargeback of the flight costs. It is important here that you enclose the booking confirmation, credit card statement, cancellation confirmation from the airline and your refund request to the airline. However, the refund of flight costs is subject to deadlines (usually 120 days from the date of service, booking on 20.3.2020, flight on 26.5.2020, 120 days from 26.5.2020). It is advisable to enquire with the respective credit card company about the complaint periods. The refund of the collected amount should then normally take place, since the airline as the payee has already confirmed that it cannot provide the service (the flights). The refund request must be distinguished from additional insurances (trip cancellation insurances) taken out via the credit card. Whether insurance claims exist here must be checked separately.

16. 

I have only booked a ticket as a passenger. The transport company has now cancelled (=cancelled) on its own initiative. Do I get the money back or do I have to accept a voucher?

Reclaim the ticket price in money and not as a voucher!

17.

I have only booked a ticket as a passenger. The route is also still being operated, but I don't want to go there now because of the corona virus. Can I cancel free of charge?

This is more difficult than with a package tour because the stay on site is not part of the contract. However, be sure to ask the transport company if you are allowed to cancel free of charge or get a voucher for later instead.
If the destination is very badly affected by the virus, you can also try to argue that you would not have gone on immediately, but wanted to spend your holiday in that city. Argue that you already find leaving the means of transport unreasonable and that the basis of the contract has therefore ceased to exist. Certain taxes and fees are also refunded by an airline in the event of a chargeable cancellation, but this is often very little.

18.

I have only booked one flight ticket. I am now not allowed to enter the country I was supposed to fly to (e.g. Israel, USA) or I can no longer get a visa for this country (e.g. India) because of the departure point. Do I get the money back?

That is still legally unclear at the moment. Can you prove that you would have stayed in the country where the flight is going? For example, do you already have a hotel booking or a return flight from there? Was it possible to forsee this situation at the time of the booking? Then inform the airline and try to argue that the basis of the contract has ceased to exist. Therefore, ask for a refund of the ticket price. In such a case, many airlines offer at least a free rebooking anyway. This means you get a voucher and can use it for a later booking. Ask your airline about this!

19.

I have only booked a flight ticket. I am allowed to enter the country where I was supposed to fly to, but I have to immediately go into quarantine for several days because of the place of departure. Do I get the money back? 

This is still legally unclear at the moment, as the flight itself could be operated by the airline. Ask the airline if they will at least offer you a free rebooking. This means you get a voucher and can use it for a later booking. You will get back certain taxes and fees from an airline even if you have to pay for a cancellation, but this is often very little.

20.

My paid flight was cancelled by the airline. I asked for a refund and the airline only promised me a voucher instead of a refund. Do I have to accept the voucher?

Some European countries had temporarily enacted laws that weaken passenger rights under Article 8 of the EU's Air Passenger Rights Regulation and allow vouchers instead of ticket refunds in case of cancellations. In our view and the view of the EU Commission, this is against current EU law. You can refuse the voucher and claim the ticket price back in cash.

21.

I had requested a refund from the airline because the flight did not take place due to Corona. Now the airline (e.g. Ryanair) or the booking platform (e.g. Kiwi) issued me a cheque. Do I have to accept this form of refund?

According to the Air Passenger Rights Regulation (Art. 8 Reg.EC 261/2004 and Art. 7 Reg.EC 261/2004), airlines are in principle free to refund by cheque.

 

However, such cheques were not accepted by certain banks. If this happens, then the airline or booking platform did not make a debt-free refund. You should have the bank confirm the rejection of the cheque in writing and write to the ticket sellers that you do not accept the cheque. Enclose the bank confirmation and request a cash transfer to your account.

We have received several complaints about extremely high bank charges (e.g. 70€) for cashing these cheques. You should therefore reject the cheque because of excessive charges and demand a cash transfer by the issuers.

22.

I had applied for a refund of my ticket costs because my flight did not take place due to Corona. Now the booking platform (e.g. Kiwi, Opodo, Expedia etc.) wants to deduct a very high processing fee from the refund amount. Do I have to accept this?

In our opinion, fees of up to several hundred euros are excessive and you should reject them in writing.

Accommodation

You have booked a hotel, apartment or other accommodation separately with commercial providers as part of an individual trip. This topic block therefore deals with those cases where no additional service, such as a flight or rental car, has been added to your total bill. If you are looking for answers to questions on the topic of accommodation in travel service packages, see "Package travel" above.

Pictogram about "Accommodation"

Accommodation

  • In our opinion, Austrian law applies to brokerage platforms (according to Art. 6 of the Rome I Regulation).

    • According to §6 para 1 & 3 and §7 para 2 of the Austrian Brokerage Act, the intermediary is only entitled to the brokerage fee if the transaction to be procured comes about. If the flight was cancelled, this did not happen. We therefore advise you to claim back the preocessing fee from the intermediary.

       

  • According to § 9 of the Brokerage Act, an agent may only charge a fee for additional tasks (e.g. rebooking) if this was clearly agreed upon when the contract was concluded. If this was not done, we recommend filing an objection against the newly charged (or already deducted) fee.

23.

I have only booked accommodation. I am supposed to travel within the next 7 days, but I do not want to travel because of the acute danger situation on site. Can I cancel free of charge?

That depends on the law of the country where the hotel is located. In Austria, for example, it is regulated that the contract then falls apart, when this situation could not be foreseen. You do not owe a cancellation fee, you get a deposit back.

24.

I have only booked accommodation and am supposed to travel within the next 7 days. However, the place of accommodation is not accessible at all because I am not allowed to enter there (where the hotel is located). Can I cancel free of charge?

This depends on the law of the country where the hotel is located. In Austria and Italy it is regulated that the contract falls apart, when this situation could not be foreseen. You do not owe a cancellation fee, you get a deposit back.

25.

I have only booked accommodation and am not due to travel for a few weeks/months. Can I cancel free of charge?

Check the booking conditions. Many hotels can be cancelled free of charge or at low cost until shortly before arrival anyway. If this is not the case with your booking, you would have to wait and see how the situation develops. Shortly before (about 1 week) there may be a right to cancel free of charge. This depends on the law of the state where the hotel is located.

26.

I have only booked accommodation (hotel, flat). At the destination, all sights, restaurants and shops are closed / you are only allowed to be on the street if absolutely necessary / I am not allowed to enter / I am allowed to enter, but it is further away and there are no more flights going there. Can I cancel free of charge?

This depends on the law of the state where the hotel is located. In many countries, if the hotel is open, the points listed above do not give you the right to cancel free of charge. Wait and see how the situation develops, maybe the hotel will have to close. Or try to negotiate a voucher for a later stay based on the above points.

27.

I have only booked accommodation (hotel, appartment). It is already clear that the hotel will be closed at the time of my planned stay. Can I cancel free of charge?

If the hotel operator cannot fulfil its part of the contract and cannot offer the room as agreed, you have the right to cancel the contract free of charge within the EU, Norway and Iceland and to claim back money already paid. In the course of the Corona pandemic, some countries have passed their own laws that allow hotels to offer vouchers as well. It is always necessary to check which law applies in each individual case.

28.

My family has booked an apartment abroad. The flight there was cancelled; we currently do not know if and how we will get to our destination. We have paid a deposit. Can we cancel?

In case of a cancelled flight, you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price. As far as the appartment is concerned, the national law of the country of accommodation applies if no package tour was booked.
Whether there is the possibility of a free cancellation has to be checked in each individual case. However, as long as the hotel is allowed to be open and is open, the hotel is able to fulfil its part of the contract. The journey to the hotel was not part of the contract if no package tour was booked. We therefore advise you to contact the landlord directly and clarify whether an amicable solution can be found.

29.

I booked a hotel through a booking platform and paid a deposit. The hotel has now closed and cannot fulfil its part of the contract. For the refund, I was referred to the agent, who left me hanging. Who is really responsible?

The contract for the room rental is usually directly with the hotel. As soon as you do not book directly with the hotel, you are always referred to the intermediary for reimbursement requests. This is very annoying, but cannot be changed out of court if the hotel blocks the request.

Quarantine

Travel and quarantine regulations at home and at destination are in place through national regulations or even due to temporary emergency laws to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since regulations in this are are constantly changing, we recommend to visit the websites of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, the ÖAMTC also keeps this linked information page up to date.

Pictogram about "mouth and nose protection mask"

Covid 19

Already abroad

You are already travelling and a travel warning has been issued by the Austrian Foreign Ministry or you are looking for local embassy contact points? Regardless of the reason for your search for information in this topic block, you should register with the Foreign Ministry or also download the corresponding app so that they can help you better in an emergency:
https://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/auslandsservice/reiseregistrierung/

 

Piktogramm zum Thema "Entry requirements"

Entry requirements

30.

I am in a country for which, as of an already known cut-off date, the Austrian Foreign Ministry will declare a travel warning and the Ministry of Health will classify it as a risk country in the entry regulation. What does this mean for me?

It is recommended by the authorities to return to Austria and to refrain from timely travel to this country.

31.

I am now on the ground in a country for which the Austrian Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning and therefore plan to cancel my ongoing trip - what rights do I have?

  • Package tour: We recommend contacting the tour operator or possibly the travel agency and explaining that you want to cancel the trip due to the travel warning and return to Austria earlier. In our legal opinion, it is the tour operator's responsibility to take care of this and the traveller must not incur any additional costs as a result. Due to the fact that the trip cannot be completed as originally planned, there is the possibility that one can be reimbursed for part of the costs. However, this must be checked for each individual case.
  • Individual travel (I have booked a hotel / appartment separately): We recommend contacting the company and asking whether an amicable solution can be found here. These contracts are generally subject to the law of the country of travel. Part of the contract is only the accommodation and as long as the hotel is open and stays open, the company can fulfil its part of the contract. We also recommend arguing with the travel warning already issued or announced by the Austrian Foreign Ministry. However, there is no clear legal claim to reimbursement. Only the courts can ultimately decide whether there is a chance of being reimbursed in this case.
  • Individual travel (I booked a flight separately): We recommend contacting the airline or possibly the agent and asking whether an amicable solution can be found. As soon as you have not booked directly with the airline, many airlines will refer you to the agent for all enquiries. This is very annoying, but cannot be changed out of court.

    Airlines have the possibility to make a choice of law in their general terms and conditions (e.g. the law of the country where the airline is based or where the consumer is based). If no applicable law is agreed, the law of the country where the consumer has his habitual residence applies if the place of departure or destination is also located there. If this is not the case either, the law of the country where the airline has its habitual residence applies. Only the carriage itself is part of the contract - it is not part of the contract that I can enter or stay in the country. The airline has therefore not promised me that. As long as the airports themselves are open and remain open, the airlines can fulfil their part of the contract. Austria has now issued an official travel warning and we recommend arguing with this. From a legal point of view, however, it is unclear whether this argument can be used to cancel the rest of the contract free of charge. If the airline is not prepared to rebook you on an earlier flight free of charge or to refund the original flight free of charge, we do not see any chance of enforcing this out of court (this will have to be clarified by a court). You at least have the right to get a partial refund of the taxes and fees if the flight takes place and you do not use it.

32.

I am in a country for which a level 6 travel warning is in force because of the coronavirus and I want to go back to Austria. Can I be banned from doing so? Or do I have to go into quarantine?

 

Austrian citizens and persons who have their residence in Austria are not prohibited from entering Austria. For further information, we recommend visiting the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Social Affairs.

33.

I am already abroad and had booked a package holiday. Due to the corona virus, I now want to go home earlier. Am I allowed to do that? Who bears the costs?

If there is suddenly a high risk on site, the organiser should bear the costs of a trip home. In our opinion, you also have a right to break off the trip early. Ask the travel agency, the tour operator or their local tour guide to organise an earlier journey home for you free of charge. It is best to do this in writing, setting a deadline and stating that you will have to arrange your own return transport if necessary, for which you reserve the right to compensation if the company does not do this in time.

From a legal point of view, it has not yet been clarified whether foreseeability at the time of booking can play a role in early termination of the contract and a possible cost recovery or reimbursement.

34.

I am abroad, who do I generally contact with enquiries or problems?

If you need help abroad because of the coronavirus, you should contact the competent Austrian embassy. On the embassy's website you will also find the respective 24-hour on-call number. The embassy's medical officer is responsible for medical assistance (can also be found on the websites). The app of the Foreign Ministry contains all contact details of the Austrian representations worldwide. The Citizens' Service is responsible at the headquarters in Vienna. However, Austrians abroad should always contact the respective embassy first. The Citizens' Service of the Foreign Ministry provides assistance in case of emergencies abroad every day around the clock at the telephone number +43 190 115 - 4411.

35.

I am already abroad. Do I get my money back from the transport company because of the return journey cancelled by the company or do I have to accept a voucher?

You will get your money back if the airline or the train, bus or shipping company cancelled the return journey on its own initiative.

Miscellaneous questions

Questions and answers were collected here that could not be thematically classified in the more specific travel law topic blocks above or that overlap and apply to several areas.

Pictogram about "Various questions"

Various questions

36.

How dangerous is the Corona virus? How can you protect yourself? 

Please contact AGES for these questions. Infoline Coronavirus for health questions: 0800 555 621

37.

Where can I get tested and who pays for it? 

You can find the information on the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection.

38.

Is a travel warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a mandatory prerequisite for a free cancellation??

No. According to previous rulings of the Supreme Court of Austria, it is sufficient that, it was not possible to forsee the development and that according to reputable media reports, the start of the journey is unreasonable. When this is fulfilled, however, repeatedly leads to differences of opinion. An official travel warning often saves the discussion of whether the holiday destination is dangerous or not.

39.

How do I know if there is a travel warning for my holiday destination?

On the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there is information on this for each country. Security level 6 means travel warning for the whole country, level 5 means travel warning for a certain region. So check how far your holiday destination is from that region. Anything below level 5 is not a travel warning. Another new feature is the case-by-case differentiation at the highest warning level 6 for tourist travel only or the general highest warning level 6 for all travel. Please note that the risk ratings of individual countries change constantly.

40.

The airline cancels the flight of its own accord / the hotel has closed and cannot offer accommodation / the tour operator cannot carry out the package tour - when I asked for my money back, the company withheld a handling fee. Are they allowed to do that?

In our opinion, a handling fee can only be a certain kind of compensation for expenses if one wants to change something in the original contract itself and the entrepreneur thus has additional work that is not part of the contract and also does not have to be done free of charge by law. However, if the contract cannot be fulfilled at all, e.g. because the airline does not fly, the hotel is closed or the package tour is not carried out, in our opinion the respective companies should not retain a handling fee for this. We also see it the same way for intermediaries of the respective services. Since the respective service providers terminate the contract, you are entitled to the money you have already paid, and in our opinion without deductions.

41.

I have taken out cancellation insurance. Will this help me if I don't want to travel, for example, because I'm worried about catching the corona virus at my destination?

No, cancellation insurance would usually only reimburse cancellation costs if you suddenly become seriously ill at home, a close relative passes away, your house burns down, etc. (see insurance conditions). To be sure, check your specific insurance conditions.

42.

I bought tickets for an event (sports, music, theatre, etc.). This has now been cancelled. Will I get my money back?

This depends on the law of the state where the match, concert etc. should have taken place.

For events in Austria, due to a new law (Kunst-, Kultur- und Sportsicherungsgesetz - KuKuSpoSiG), there is now the possibility for organisers to partially issue a voucher instead of completely refunding the amount of money. This applies to all events in the arts, culture and sports sector that could not take place in 2020 or 2021 due to the Corona pandemic. However, events organised by the federal government, the state or a municipality are excluded. Alternatively, consumers can still accept an alternative date for the event if they agree.

The voucher is not protected against an insolvency of the trader and is not name-bound. Therefore it can be given to any person. No costs may be incurred by the consumer when the voucher is issued. If the voucher is not redeemed, the organiser must refund the amount in cash at the consumer's request:

  • For events cancelled in 2020 or until 30.06.2021, the voucher can be redeemed in cash from 01.01.2023.
  • For events cancelled as of 07/01/2021, the voucher can be redeemed in cash from 01.01.2024. Unless it is an event that was already cancelled before the 01.07.2021 and was postponed to the 2nd half of 2021 - in this case the 01.01.2023 remains.

The amount of the ticket price determines how the refund will be made in each individual case:

  1. Up to € 70,- the organiser can issue a voucher.
  2. Between € 70 and € 250, the consumer has the right to receive the corresponding amount in cash.
  3. The organiser may issue vouchers for all amounts over € 250.

If a ticket has thus cost a total of € 280,-, I will receive a voucher in the amount of € 100,- and a cash amount of € 180,- as a replacement.

If the cancelled event was part of a subscription (e.g. football subscription), consumers can also demand that the fee to be refunded be offset against the subsequent subscription instead of the voucher.

43.

I bought tickets for an event in Germany and would have made my trip there specifically for this event. The organiser invokes the German Covid-19 legislation and only wants to refund me a voucher. Can I insist on a payment of the voucher?

Yes. There is an exemption clause in this German "Act to Mitigate the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Event Contract Law" (see point 7 of the German FAQ). If you would have to travel extra from Austria and bear extra overnight costs, we think that the "personally unreasonable living conditions" mentioned in the law apply due to high unavoidable costs at a make-up event and therefore you are entitled to money instead of a voucher.

44.

I have a voucher for a hotel booking/ package tour/ study trip/ transport service from an Italian company. The voucher was issued because of the 2020 pandemic. The validity expires soon, but Corona still makes my use of the paid service impossible, what can I do?

Italy has adopted national emergency regulations (Law No. 27 of 24 April 2020 and Law No. 77 of 17 July 2020 and Law No. 69 of 22 May 2021 with updated voucher validities):

  • Vouchers were to be accepted by consumers if the service should have been provided between 11 March and 30 September 2020 and the contract was terminated before 31 July 2020 because the service could not be provided due to the effects of the COVID-19 emergency (impossibility of performance). Italian companies were given the freedom to choose whether to reimburse in cash or issue a voucher.
  • The term of the vouchers has been set at 24 months from the date of issue. If the vouchers are not used, their value must be paid out in cash after 24 months.
  • In the case of vouchers for transport contracts, reimbursement can already be claimed after 12 months. For flights operated by Italian airlines that should have taken place within Italy or the Schengen area after 3 June 2020, consumers can refuse a voucher. In this regard, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority has informed that there were no longer any travel restrictions due to Covid-19 as of 3 June 2020. Airlines must therefore reimburse flight costs in the event of flight cancellations in accordance with the Air Passenger Rights Regulation.

45.

I have booked accommodation/ packages/ study trips with an Italian company for the future. Now the Corona situation in Italy has worsened or the entry regulations have been tightened. What can I do?

  • For bookings after 31 July 2020, customers may reject vouchers if there is a subsequent impossibility of performance (Art. 1463 of the Italian Civil Code). An impossibility of performance exists, for example, in the case of travel restrictions and quarantine measures due to official decrees.
  • If customers nevertheless accept a voucher issued by the company, they should obtain written confirmation from the issuer that the voucher will be paid out even after the end of its validity if it is not used. It should be remembered that vouchers are not insured against insolvency. The Italian legislator has again extended the validity of the old vouchers (issued at the time of an impossibility to travel) by 6 months and they are now valid for 24 months.
  • For prepaid future services (e.g. hotel in Rome in May 2021), cancellation fees are currently permitted as there are no entry restrictions for the future period. Only cancel when it is clear that entry restrictions will make the trip impossible and thus avoid cancellation fees or book in the first place shortly before departure or after being assured of a free cancellation option.

46.

I had bought tickets for an event in Italy. My claim for payment for not using the tickets after one year is about to come into effect. What is the latest situation?

There is an update dated 21 May 2021 of the Italian CoV law number 69, in force from 22 May 2021, unfortunately to the detriment of prevented event attendees.

This extends the validity of event vouchers by another 18 months. This means that companies that would soon have to pay out unused vouchers due to the expiry of the deadline will be given another one and a half years to do so if customers do not want to use the voucher for another offer.

In addition (and unlike package holidays, accommodation or transport contracts), vouchers may continue to be issued by Italian organisers until 31 July 2021 if the reason is an impossibility of performance. Exceptions to this are live events, provided that the live event has an alternative date on a precisely defined date by 31 December 2023 at the latest. Otherwise, the visitors must be refunded in cash.

47.

I have a "Green Pass" and have booked a package tour to an EU country. Now the government there (e.g. in Malta from 14.7.2021) has tightened the entry regulations so that my medical certificate of recovery or my first vaccination with two necessary doses is no longer sufficient for the permitted entry. Can I withdraw from my contract free of charge?

According to our legal point of view, yes. This officially ordered tightening was not foreseeable at the time of your booking, especially since the country participates in the EU Digital COVID Certificate (= "Green Pass") and had allowed access with a recovery certificate or the first vaccination after a period of time until then. Due to this external circumstance, the basis of business in your contract ceases to exist, which is also clearly regulated by the Package Travel Act (§10 para.2 PRG). This also applies if you are now theoretically allowed to enter the country, but immediately have to spend 14 days in quarantine.

Related Links

Covid-19 Information in different languages (Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection)
https://www.sozialministerium.at/en.html

Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
https://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/

Official Covid-19 cases in Austria
https://info.gesundheitsministerium.at/d/87BA8__Wk1/covid-19-offentlich-zugangliche-information?orgId=1&refresh=5m

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