EU Court: Money Back for Package Tour Ruined by Covid Restrictions

EU Court: Money Back for Package Tour Ruined by Covid Restrictions

Travellers are entitled to a price reduction on their package holiday if they were affected by unexpected corona measures during that holiday.

This is the European Court of Justice ruling on a case in which two holidaymakers demand part of their money back from a German tour operator. Due to the introduction of restrictions on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria in March 2020, the two had nowhere to go and had to end their holiday prematurely.

The two had booked a package holiday for two weeks from March 13, 2020. On the 15th, the Spanish authorities introduced all kinds of restrictions on the island to prevent the spread of the virus. For example, the beaches and the hotel’s swimming pool closed, and guests were no longer allowed to use the sun loungers. In addition, a curfew was imposed, after which the holidaymakers were only allowed to leave their hotel room to eat. The animation program was also cancelled. On March 18, travellers were told to be ready to go to the island anytime. Two days later, they were flown back to Germany.

The affected customers demanded a price reduction of 70 percent from the tour operator because of the messed up holiday. He said before the German court that he could not be held liable for the situation during the corona outbreak. The German court then asked the Luxembourg court to rule on applying the European directive on package travel.

According to the court, the cause of the spoiled trip, particularly whether this can be attributed to the organizer, is irrelevant. The package travel directive stipulates that the organizer’s liability for non-performance or faulty performance of travel services only lapses if the traveller is to blame. And that is not the case here.

A customer is entitled to a reduction in the price of his package holiday if the delivered product does not meet the (reasonable) expectations of the customer, and this is due to restrictions imposed at his travel destination to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, such as Covid-19, according to the highest European court. The court says the German court must now consider an “appropriate” price reduction.

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