Page last updated at 11:08 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

European help plan for stranded travellers

Grounded XL planes at Manchester airport
Thousands of customers were stranded when XL fell into administration

Travellers who book holidays on the internet could receive more financial protection if things go wrong, under plans in a European review.

Consumers who make up their own packages of flights, hotels and car rentals on one website or partner sites could get more protection.

Currently, only those who have booked specific package deals have rights to cancel or refunds if operators go bust.

A review will consider help for passengers if airlines collapse.

"We need tough protection that gives all consumers booking a package holiday the peace of mind they deserve, and we need a level playing field so businesses compete on equal terms," said EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

The consumers' association Which? welcomed the review.

"The Package Travel Directive was drawn up almost 20 years ago, and while useful at the time, it doesn't go far enough to protect today's holidaymaker," said Rochelle Turner, of Which? Holiday.

"A significant number of people book hotels from a direct link on an airline's website, or use online travel agents to book their own package, and are left without the peace of mind that they are protected should something go wrong.

Changes

The current rules, which came into force in 1990, offer protection for people who book packages through a travel agent.

They give these travellers various rights including the right to a refund if elements of the holiday are changed or if the organiser cancels the package.

Most importantly, provision must be made to refund travellers and return them home if the operator goes bust.

The European Commission wants to consult on the possibility that - after a recent spate of airlines going bust - basic insolvency protection should be extended to cover independent travellers buying standalone airline tickets which are not part of any package.

However, the review is unlikely to start until the second half of 2010.



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