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Trip cancellation due to danger in Israel

Travel warning and state of war

Night sky over a city lit up by the luminous smoke trails of rocket fire
Image: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock

Israel has officially declared a state of war. At the moment, the partial travel warning of the Austrian Foreign Ministry (security level 5) applies to the southern greater area around the Gaza Strip as well as to the northern border areas with Syria and Lebanon.

Orange road sign shows the way to the next shelter in English and Hebrew
Image: Kai-Pilger / Shutterstock

When you are on the ground, follow the instructions of the Israeli authorities and keep up to date with news. Likewise, you should urgently make a travel registration on the site of the Austrian Foreign Ministry in order to be able to receive assistance more easily from the Austrian Embassy on the ground. Tourists should stay in their hotel and within reach of shelters in case of alarm.

Travel within the country and to Israel is not advised. Ben Gurion Airport is still in operation, but almost all airlines have greatly reduced or temporarily suspended their regular flights. Israel is currently preparing a ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. There are also ongoing fears of incidents in the north and further escalation in the region.

Flight cancellation

An aircraft of the Israeli airline EL Al in front of the terminal of El Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
Image: ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

People who fly to Israel usually enter the country via Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and usually leave again via this airport. Now it is reported that about 42 % of all flights have been cancelled in the last few days. For example, the Star Alliance, the group consisting of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss and 23 other airlines, has cancelled all flights to Israel until the end of October. Flight cancellations on the part of the operating airlines clearly entitle the passenger to a refund of the total price.

Some other airlines, such as Wizz Air or Ryanair (as of 23.10.2023), continue to offer flights to Israel despite security risks. However, these low-cost carriers repeatedly cancel their flights at short notice. In doing so, they justifiably refer to circumstances beyond their control. This legally exempts the airline from possible compensation payments to passengers due to "force majeure". This is what happened with Ryanair in the last seven days (16 to 23 October) and also with WizzAir the support centre can hardly keep up with the requests because of the many calls due to flight cancellations. If the airline cancels at short notice, as described here, it contacts passengers and offers rebooking or a full refund.

El Al, Israel's largest airline, on the other hand, has cancelled only a small percentage (around 3%) of its scheduled flights in the last two weeks, but is keeping all options open for cancellations at short notice. El Al is mainly trying to bring home to Israel domestic passengers whose flights have been cancelled by other airlines and to bring out of the country tourists who are willing to leave. For this purpose, a separate fare model was introduced at short notice until 28 October 2023.

If the flight you have booked takes place and you in turn wish to cancel it, then the airline has fulfilled the contract and will not accept a cancellation free of charge.

Conclusion Flight Cancellation

Those wishing to cancel can either speculate that the flight will be cancelled at short notice if the situation on the ground continues to escalate and thus not incur any costs, or actively seek a rebooking to another, hopefully safer time or a cancellation with costs. To this end, also be sure to keep an eye on the Israeli authorities' instructions on air travel. Those who need to get out of Israel should most likely try El Al.

Cancel a package holiday or cruise

The Package Travel Act protects travellers more extensively than self-made individual bookings. A package tour includes several travel services such as arrival/departure and accommodation from one tour operator. Anyone who has booked a package tour or cruise to Israel has a duty of assistance from the tour operator in case of need. This duty of assistance includes, among other things, organising alternative transport in an emergency or accommodation if there is an involuntary extension of the stay. In concrete terms for the current situation in Israel, this means that those affected must contact the tour operator with whom they had booked. There you should ask for help in solving problems that have arisen; for example, if an early departure becomes necessary, paid excursions or other services are no longer possible because of the situation on the ground, or an alternative return flight must be found with another airline that is still active. The tour operators usually have their own staff on site, who work together with the state representation abroad. If this assistance cannot be provided, financial compensation can be claimed retroactively.

The travel warning of the current level 5 of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentioned at the beginning is a convincing argument for being allowed to withdraw free of charge from a trip that is to take place in a few days. You can send our sample letter (German language) to the tour operator. If, on the other hand, the trip is to take place in the distant future, it will be more difficult to get out of the contract free of charge.

Two cruise ships photographed from behind, lying on a concrete pier
Image: Hornet Pictures / Pixabay

Cruise with Israel reference

The previously mentioned Package Travel Law includes cruises. What matters here is whether the booked cruise starts in Israel. If so, and if it is also scheduled to start in the near future - i.e. in about a week - and the travel warning is still in effect, then a cancellation free of charge is possible as above.

If the cruise would have included stops in Israel, for example in Tel Aviv, Haifa or Ashdod, and is now diverted due to the threat of war, and these shore excursions are cancelled, those affected are entitled to price reductions. If instead of Tel Aviv, for example, the Turkish city of Izmir is now used as an alternative, out-of-court compensation will not be enforceable. A court would then have to decide whether the alternative compensation was sufficient.

Conclusion Package Tour

  • If you want to cancel a package holiday in the near future and there is no longer an official travel warning, the earlier you cancel, the lower the cancellation costs. 
  • Check whether, for example, your credit card or your car club membership includes travel cancellation cover.
  • With regard to a trip that lies further in the future, it is important in the event of a legal dispute with tour operators whether there was a travel warning. However, this has no legally binding effect on the court ruling. As is often the case, it depends on the exact facts of the individual case. Conversely, a court may also recognise extraordinary circumstances in favour of the aggrieved travellers where there was no travel warning, for example if serious media reports clearly show the danger or impossibility of the trip. 
  • In any case, it is advisable to contact the travel company before or during the trip and to try to find an amicable solution.

Cancel accommodation

Two-storey Israeli hotel on a busy street
Image: Bakusova / Shutterstock


Hotel bookings are subject to national law in Israel. For bookings to Israel that have not yet been made, the world's largest booking platforms, for example, are currently advising travellers to observe their own government instructions - i.e. travel warnings. In this way, they indirectly point out the personal responsibility of the bookers. It is also to be understood as an indication that, despite travel warnings, no free cancellations will be granted:

  • Booking: "Please read any travel advisories provided by your government to make an informed decision about your stay in this area, which may be considered conflict-affected. 
  • "Expedia: "The Foreign Office publishes travel advisories and warnings for countries where there is a risk to travellers' health and safety. If you are planning a trip, we recommend that you consult all relevant government websites before booking your trip."

So if you had booked a hotel in Israel separately (i.e. not included in a travel package) and now want to cancel the trip, the first step is to check the cancellation conditions. Aren't you still within the free period anyway? Often, hotels on these platforms can be cancelled free of charge up to five days before arrival. If not, ask the hotel whether they can accommodate you with a rebooking for later or a voucher as a gesture of goodwill. However, you are not entitled to this.

Junge Frau am Strand hält Smartphone mit Airbnb Logo am Bildschirm in den Händen
Image: Diego Thomazini / Shutterstock


The destination Israel is often booked on AirBnB, here different cancellation conditions apply. Depending on the cancellation rules of the hosts, corresponding deadlines apply. AirBnb categorises here in four groups according to "severity". You can see under which conditions you have booked in the portal under "my trips". First check whether you are not getting out of the booking contract for free anyway:

  • Flexible: 24 hours before check-in, then pay for 1st night
  • Moderate: 5 days before check-in free of charge, then pay for 1st night and 50% of the remaining accommodation costs
  • Moderate strict: Free of charge 30 days before or within 48 hours after booking if 14 days remain before check-in. Later 50% of cost if cancellation more than 1 week before check-in. Cancellation less than 7 days before check-in full cost of accommodation.
  • Strict: Full refund within 48 hours of booking provided 14 days before check-in. Up to one week before check-in 50% of the booking amount. Thereafter pay full amount.

However, the platform has a policy on danger on the ground in its extended T&Cs, which applies precisely to the current situation in Israel: "Military actions and other disputes. Acts of war, hostilities, invasions, civil wars, terrorism, explosions, bombings, rebellions, riots, insurrections, civil unrest and civil disturbances."

Those affected told us that only the insistence on this passage in the advertised conditions made a free cancellation possible. You should not insist on this with the landlord, but directly with AirBnB. Also make sure that such a free cancellation due to "special circumstances" is done within 14 days.


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