The most important legal rules
Please note: The new law regarding package travel comes into force on 1. July 2018!
What does "package holiday" mean?
The legislator speaks of a package, if at least 2 of the following items are included in the trip:
- other tourist services that are not ancillary services but a considerably part of the trip
Can I cancel a trip free of charge?
Basically no (exceptions see below), not even if you wish to cancel already five minutes after conclusion of the contract. Please note that bookings can also be made by phone, fax or e-mail. Sometimes it is advisable to book travel insurance (cancellation insurance). But be careful! Again, study the contract provisions carefully, as the insurance company usually pays the cancellation costs only in cases of illness, accident or death.
Does the reality match with the information and pictures in the brochure?
The principle of truth: Everything a travel brochure or website describes or depicts, is considered committed property of the package, unless this was corrected at the time of booking. The tour operator must therefore take responsibility for these promised benefits, even if he is not directly to blame for the maladministration.
What applies to the deposit in a package?
The law states that the organizer may require a deposit of up to 20 percent. The rest you have to pay only when you receive the travel documents, but not earlier than 20 days before departure.
Can the price for the booked package increase subsequently?
A host can increase the already agreed travel price only under very special circumstances and within certain time limits:
- In the last 20 days prior to departure, the price of a package must not be increased. This also applies for early bookings more than two months before departure.
- A price increase is also inadmissible if the contract is less than two months prior to the provision of the service.
- Outside the protection period of 20 days, a price increase may occur if there is a so-called escalation clause in the terms and conditions. A subsequent price change is then only possible for certain reasons, such as a change in transport costs ("fuel surcharge"), the charges ("airport tax"), or exchange rates. The contract terms must include details of the calculation of the new price.
- If the tour operator (in compliance with statutory provisions) increased the price significantly, the consumer has a choice: He can either accept the new offer or withdraw from the contract free of charge. An increase of more than 10% is significant in any, but also increases below this 10% can be considered significant under certain circumstances.
May the organizer make changes to agreed services? (departure date, airport, accommodation...)
If the host wants to make a change in performance, this must be arranged separately. In Conditions (Terms and Conditions) such agreements are only valid if they include minor changes that are objectively justified.
Even if the tour operator changes services by referring to this in the small print, you do not have to accept everything. There are legal provisions that guarantee the right to withdraw if "major contract provisions changed significantly."
What happens if the tour operator goes bankrupt?
A tour operator organising package tours is obliged to make provisions in case his company goes bankrupt. According to Austrian law this can be done by insurance or other guarantee (e.g. bank guarantee).
These provisions shall protect you from losing your down payment or having to pay a service (e.g. hotel, return flight) twice.
If not the tour operator but the travel agency is affected by bankruptcy there is some protection for consumers as well.