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The new Package Travel Directive will bring online ‘click-through’ sales within the definition of a package where a traveller’s name, email and payment details are transferred between websites.
The Council of Europe confirmed the move ahead of a meeting to sign off the directive on Thursday (May 28).
The provision will apply to bookings of two or more services where data is transferred within 24 hours of confirmation of the first, typically a flight booking. Where fewer details pass between sites, the combination will be termed ‘a linked travel arrangement’. This will require financial protection but not carry the liabilities of a package.
Bookings now designated Flight-Plus in the UK will become packages and traders will be required to “state clearly and prominently” whether they are offering a package or linked travel arrangement. Companies facilitating linked arrangements will have to provide insolvency protection and information on the level of protection “before the traveller agrees to pay”.
A high street or online travel agent will be able to act “as a mere retailer or intermediary only where another trader is acting as the organiser”. How a company defines their activity will be irrelevant and companies “may not escape their obligations by claiming they are acting as a service provider or intermediary”.
The directive states: “Protection has to be sufficient to cover all foreseeable payments in respect of packages in peak season . . . [and] to ensure fair competition and protect consumers, the refund of prepayments and repatriation of travellers in the event of insolvency should also apply to linked travel arrangements.”
It adds: “An organiser’s insolvency protection shall benefit travellers regardless of their place of residence, place of departure or where the package is sold.”
The Package Travel Directive is likely to come into force in the UK in 2017.
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