We’re in the middle of high summer now, but the chances are if you look of your window right now you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Britain might not be ideal in every way, but you know there are certain things you can rely on consistently in this country, and one of those things is the unpredictability of the British weather. So it’s no wonder that the popularity of the package holiday has risen inexorably in the UK. We know that if we want guaranteed and reliable sunshine, then we have to go abroad to find it. But times are hard and money is tight, so before we splash the cash we like to know that we are going to get what we are paying for. So what are your consumer rights in relation to package holidays?
The biggest difference between package holidays and personalised travel plans where travel and accommodation are booked separately, is that a package holiday booking gives consumers the reassurance that if the airline goes bust or they become stranded abroad, their travel agent is responsible for sorting it out. But what exactly does the law define as a package holiday? Well, the Court of Appeal considered this question in 2011 in the case of Titshall v Qwerty Travel Limited.
Package Holiday Case Study.
The facts of the case were this. Mr Titshall booked a last minute, all-inclusive holiday for a week in Corfu through Qwerty Travel. He had found the holiday on a teletext advertisement and booked with Qwerty over the telephone the night before the flights were due to leave.
During his holiday, Mr Titshall sustained serious injuries as a result of falling through a sliding glass door in the hotel. The circumstances relating to how the accident happened were disputed: Mr Titshall claimed that the door was faulty and shattered when he tried to open it, whereas Qwerty claimed that the accident happened as a result of drunken row between Mr Titshall and his partner. Despite the disputed facts Mr Titshall made a claim for personal injury compensation for the injuries he had suffered as a result of the accident.
In defence, Qwerty Travel claimed (amongst other things) that they had no obligation to Mr Titshall because he had not booked a package holiday. Qwerty argued that they were effectively just a retail agent arranging two separate contracts; the first with First Choice for the flights, and the second with Hotels4U for 7 nights of accommodation. Qwerty Travel had given Mr Titshall a breakdown of the cost over the telephone, and argued that if Mr Titshall had asked to book just the flights or simply book the accommodation separately, he would have been told that he could.
However, the Court disagreed. In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal decided that the holiday was a ‘package holiday’ and that Qwerty Travel could in principle be liable to Mr Titshall for his injuries. How did the Court come to this decision?
Well, it took into account the following factors:
- The advertisement was at an inclusive price.
- No suggestion was made to Mr Titshall that either the flights or accommodation were available for separate purchase, and;
- There was a service charge which connected the provision of one service with the other.
So what does this decision mean for holidaymakers? How does it affect their consumer rights? Well, following the decision it seems that the responsibility in fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the agent. It is now, therefore the responsibility of the agent to ensure that it is made clear that a holiday booking is not being offered as a package holiday. A service charge will also be considered an indication that the agent is selling a package holiday.
For more information about how your package holiday rights are protected see: