EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European holidaymakers who book their travels over the internet could see stronger financial protection if things go awry while away on the jaunt they have cobbled together without the aid of a travel agent.
The European Commission announced on Thursday (26 November) that it is consulting on extending the basic coverage provided by a 1990 piece of legislation, that protects those on package holidays, to more of today's passengers. According to the EU executive's own figures, just under a quarter of travellers are making their own ‘packages' of flights, hotel rooms and car rental over the internet, and as such are not protected.
After a spate of airlines going out of business and stranding passengers, the commission is looking into extending insolvency protection for the new generation of holidaymakers, including coverage for stand-alone airline tickets.
"We need tough protection that gives all consumers booking a package holiday the peace of mind they deserve," said consumer protection commissioenr Meglena Kuneva upon announcement of the review.
"I am particularly concerned about the issue of insolvency. Anyone who saw the TV pictures of thousands of holidaymakers stranded at airports after bankruptcies from Sky Europe to XL, Futura and Zoom, knows that now is the right time to ask tough questions about extending basic insolvency protection to consumers across the board."
Currently, the legislation, which dates back to 1990 when the most common type of holiday was a two week package booked through a travel agent using a brochure, offers rights to cancel without penalty, liability for services such as sub-standard hotels and protection in the case of a tour operator or airline going bust.
The commission is also considering extending protection to other travel arrangements currently not covered, such as cruises or train trips.