"Holidaymakers who book their own trips abroad should be aware of their rights"
Dynamic Package Holidays and Regulated Package Holidays explained
Dynamic Package Holidays are those where the different parts of the holiday are booked separately, as opposed to Regulated Package Holidays, which commonly include flights, accommodation and airport transfers.
Regulated Package Holidays are now protected by consumer laws and regulations, including the Package Travel Regulations, 1992, which were created following a European Directive, responding to complaints about the lack of redress consumers had in package tour contracts.
If holidaymakers decide to ´go it alone´ and book their own accommodation, flights and transfers separately, and not book a Regulated Package Tour, their rights will not be protected in the same way. If problems arise, the holidaymaker who has booked a Dynamic Package Holiday could have difficulty in obtaining assistance, and subsequently, making a claim for illness or injury would prove very difficult.
If you are unsure whether your holiday is a Regulated Package Holiday or a Dynamic Package Holiday, check when you book whether the trip is protected by the 1992 Package Travel Regulations. Also find out whether the holiday is ATOL (Air Transport Operators Licence) protected. Any company which sells airline tickets must hold this licence in order to operate, and this will protect you if the airline goes bust.
Also find out if your holiday is protected by ABTA or AITO (The Association of British Travel Agents or The Association of Independent Tour Operators). ABTA can help you if something goes wrong or if you are unable to resolve a dispute with your travel agent. ABTA will also inform you of any major incidents which could affect your travel arrangements, and explain about financial protection.
It is not worth leaving anything to chance when booking a holiday abroad. Check online review sites to see what other holidaymakers are saying about hotels and resorts promoted by major tour operators in the UK.
If you book a Dynamic Package and you are not happy with certain aspects of the accommodation or flights, you will need to make a complaint directly to the hotel or airline company you used, and not with a travel agent. If you want to claim compensation for a holiday which was booked in this way, your only option may be to go through the legal system of the country you were visiting, which can be expensive and very time consuming, with no guarantee of a successful outcome.
If, on the other hand, you book a Regulated Package Holiday, and you want to claim compensation for any aspect of your trip, be it holiday illness or accident, you can do so from the tour operator, who will be legally obligated to protect the rights of holidaymakers abroad.
Make sure you check your travel insurance very carefully when you book your holiday, as even the best laid plans can come unstuck if your holiday is affected by industrial action or freak weather conditions. If you book a Dynamic Package, for example, and your flight is cancelled for reasons which are out of your control, you would not be able to claim accommodation costs back, as it would not be the fault of the hotel, if you did not turn up on time for the booking. The same would apply if the airline went into administration, and you were unable to reach your destination.
If this happened on a regulated package tour, however, you could receive a full refund for flights and/or accommodation, depending on the circumstances.
Holidaymakers should never assume they are protected by paying with a credit card, as each component of the holiday, when booked as a Dynamic Package, is likely to be supplied by different companies. This means you can only claim a refund directly from the suppliers of your flights and accommodation, not from a travel agent.
To enjoy greater consumer protection, book a regulated package holiday with a reputable ABTA tour operator. You may be tempted to book your hotel and flights separately to save money, but in the long run, you could find yourself out of pocket, and it will be almost impossible to claim compensation if things go wrong.