Traveller's rights regarding travel packages
When a traveller purchases a combination of several different travel services from a tour operator, a package travel contract may be established between the parties. Tour operator can for example be a travel agency. Note that when you purchase a travel package, you have certain rights and obligations. For example, you have the right to cancel the travel package contract before the start of the trip. In that case, you usually have to pay a cancellation fee according to the terms and conditions of the contract.
A travel package consists of at least two different travel services for the same trip, reserved for a combined price. Such services include airline, bus, train or ferry transport, accommodation and car hire. The package may also include other travel services, such as tickets for cultural or sporting events, organised trips, guided visits, spa treatments, ski lift passes for ski resorts or sports equipment rental. A travel package does not include travel insurance.
The definition of travel package also includes many other criteria. For example, if your trip is shorter than 24 hours and does not include overnight accommodation, it does not qualify for package travel. The travel agency must tell the customer whether the combination sold to the customer is a travel package.
You will find more information on travel packages on the website of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.
The tour operator or the retailer must provide the customer with the company's details and the services included in the contract. The total price, any additional charges and the terms of payment are mentioned in the contract.
The tour operator or the retailer must mention in the contract what the minimum number of participants required for the trip is. It must also explain what happens if the minimum number of participants is not reached. Similarly, the traveller's and the tour operator's cancellation rights and information on whether taking out travel insurance is obligatory must be recorded in the contract.
The tour operator must deliver the tickets and the transport schedules to the customer well before the trip. The tour operator must also tell the customer what travel documents are required for the trip.
Once the contract has been concluded, it is usually not possible to change the price agreed for the travel package.
The tour operator may put up the price only if this has been separately agreed on in the contract. Reducing the price is possible on the same grounds. The price increase must not be higher than the cost increase. The price increase must also be based on certain statutory grounds related to changes in transport costs, taxes or exchange rates.
The tour operator must inform the customer of the price increase at the latest 20 days before the beginning of the trip. If the price increase is more than eight per cent of the total price of the travel package, you have the right to cancel the trip without a cancellation fee.
You have the right to transfer the travel package contract to another person if the contact allows it. The tour operator may prohibit transferring, for example, if the trip is intended for members of an association. Similarly, transferring may be prohibited if a group visa has already been obtained for the participants or if the new participant would not be able to use the reserved place in accommodation because of his or her gender.
The tour operator is allowed to charge a fee for transferring the travel package to another person.
You have the right to cancel a travel package contract without a specific reason at any time before the start of the trip. The tour operator usually has the right to charge you a cancellation fee according to the terms and conditions of the contract.
However, you can cancel the trip without a cancellation fee in certain situations. If a natural disaster occurs in the travel destination or in its immediate vicinity, it may be possible to cancel the trip without a cancellation fee.
It is possible to cancel the trip also when you have a justified reason to assume that there is a significant defect in the travel arrangements. Such defects include, for example, the fact the hotel included in the package is still under construction and is not likely to be completed before the trip.
The cancellation fee must be paid even if the reason for the cancellation is your own or a close family member's serious illness or an accident.
The earlier you cancel the trip, the smaller the cancellation fee is. If your travel insurance includes cancellation cover, you may receive compensation for the cancellation fee from your travel insurance.
The tour operator has the right to cancel the trip if the number of participants is too low. The minimum number is mentioned in the contract. Participants must be informed of cancellations of trips lasting more than six days at least 20 days before the day of departure. A trip lasting between 2 and 6 days must be cancelled at least seven days before the start of the trip. Participants must be informed of cancellations of trips lasting less than two days at least 48 hours before the start of the trip.
The tour operator may cancel the trip for security reasons. Situations such as acts of war, natural disasters and dangerous contagious diseases are considered to be dangerous situations.
The tour operator must tell a traveller who has got into difficulties about health services, assistance provided by the local authorities and consular services. It has to provide an opportunity for the traveller to use a phone or email. The tour operator will help the traveller to make alternative travel arrangements.
If the traveller has caused the difficulties deliberately or as a result of negligence, the tour operator may demand a reasonable compensation for the services.
If you are not satisfied with the travel package, inform the tour operator of this immediately. The tour operator must rectify the defect immediately or within a reasonable time. If this is not done, you may be entitled to a price reduction, compensation for damages or cancellation of the contract, depending on the nature of the defect.
Note that the tour operator may make small changes to the travel package before the start of the trip if the travel package contract allows it. The tour operator must inform the traveller of any changes clearly, visibly and comprehensibly.
You will find more detailed information on defects, changes and compensations related to travel packages on the website of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.
If the defects could not be successfully rectified during the trip, submit a complaint to the tour operator as soon as possible after the trip, preferably in writing. Try to negotiate a compensation with the company.
If you cannot reach a satisfactory solution with the company, first contact the Consumer Advisory Service of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. A consumer advisor will provide guidance and help with the negotiating free of charge. You will also find advice on the website of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority or you can contact the Consumers’ Union of Finland for advice.
Unresolved disputes will be handled by the Consumer Disputes Board. Handling by the Consumer Disputes Board requires that the consumer has first contacted the Consumer Advisory Service of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority.