Cancellation of a package travel contract

Travel packages are often booked long before the start of the holiday. Before the holiday there may be unforeseen circumstances which could lead you and the organiser to cancel the trip. When the trip is cancelled, you should receive the refund no later than 14 days after the cancellation.

NOTE! The strikes scheduled for February will affect the availability of transport and accommodation services. Read about passenger rights during the strike.

The strike and passengers’ rights

Traveller’s right to cancel and duty to pay a cancellation fee

A traveller can withdraw from a package travel contract at any time before the start of the trip. There is no need to give a reason for the withdrawal.

If you cancel the trip yourself, the operator can normally charge you an appropriate and justified cancellation fee. A cancellation fee is not permitted, however, if you cancel due to exceptional circumstances, an assumed significant defect in the organiser’s service, or significant changes made to the package travel contract.

  • A cancellation fee cannot be charged if the traveller terminates the package travel contract due to unavoidable and exceptional circumstances occurring at the destination or in its immediate vicinity.

    For example, the following situations can constitute exceptional circumstances:

    • The trip cannot be carried out because of military action, terrorism, natural disaster, strike or an equivalent event at or near the destination. For example, transport connections can be prevented by military action, or essential services (e.g. electricity or water) could become unavailable at the destination due to a natural disaster or strike.
    • The trip cannot be carried out without endangering the life or health of the traveller. For example, there is an unexpected occurrence of a serious infectious disease or serious unrest at the destination, which may endanger the safety of visitors.

    Official travel advisories are taken into account when assessing the traveller’s right to cancel a trip free of charge on safety grounds.

    • The Ministry for Foreign Affairs issues country-specific travel safety bulletins, which may recommend, for example, avoiding unnecessary or all travel to or from the area.
    • The National Institute for Health and Welfare provides information on infectious disease situations around the world and on vaccinations, diseases, their prevention and treatment.
    • Finnish missions abroad report events that affect travel safety on an occasional or short-term basis.

    However, travellers are not entitled to cancel without a cancellation fee if they were already aware of the exceptional circumstances at the time of entering into the contract.

  • The organiser is not entitled to charge a cancellation fee if the traveller has substantive reason to assume a material defect in the organiser’s service. Such a situation may occur, for example, if the hotel included in the package is still incomplete and construction work is not likely to be completed in time.

  • The traveller is entitled to terminate the contract without paying the cancellation fee if the organiser makes significant changes to main features of the package travel contract or increases the total price of the package by more than 8% before the start of the trip.

At your request, the organiser must explain the reasoning for the amount of the cancellation fee.

The cancellation fee is subject to certain conditions:

  • The cancellation fee must not exceed the actual costs incurred by the organiser or include any loss of profit incurred by the organiser.
  • The maximum amount is the price of the travel package after deduction of the cost savings resulting from the cancellation and any revenue from alternative use of the travel service.
  • Where a standard cancellation fee is agreed in the package travel contract, the fee must be reasonable and based on the date of cancellation of the contract, anticipated cost savings and revenue from alternative use of the travel service.

The Consumer Ombudsman and the Association of Finnish Travel Industry have negotiated general terms and conditions for package travel conditions with a standardised cancellation fee, which depends on the stage at which the traveller cancels the purchased journey.

The organiser’s right to cancel

The organiser’s right to cancel due to the low number of participants

The organiser is entitled to cancel the trip if the number of registered participants is less than the minimum number specified in the contract terms. In this case, the minimum number of travellers and the time limit for the notice of cancellation must be specified in the contract terms.

Traveller must be notified of the cancellation within the time limit specified in the contract and no later than:

  • 20 days before the start of the trip, if the duration of the trip is over six days
  • 7 days before the start of the trip, if the duration of the trip is 2–6 days
  • 48 hours before the start of the trip, if the duration of the trip is less than two days.

The organiser’s right to cancel due to force majeure

The organiser has the right to cancel the trip if its implementation is prevented by unavoidable and exceptional circumstances. Travellers must be notified of cancellation due to force majeure without undue delay before the start of the trip.

The organiser has the right to cancel the trip if it cannot be implemented due to the following circumstances:

  • military action, natural disaster, strike or an equivalent event at or near the destination. For example, transport connections can be prevented by military action, or essential services (e.g. electricity or water) could become unavailable at the destination due to a natural disaster or strike.
  • the trip cannot be implemented without endangering passengers’ life or health. For example, there is an unexpected occurrence of a serious infectious disease or serious unrest at the destination, which may endanger the safety of visitors.

Official travel advisories can be taken into account when assessing the organiser’s right to cancel the trip on the grounds of travellers’ safety.

  • The Ministry for Foreign Affairs issues country-specific travel safety bulletins, which may recommend, for example, avoiding unnecessary or all travel to or from the area.
  • The National Institute for Health and Welfare provides information on infectious disease situations around the world and on vaccinations, diseases, their prevention and treatment.
  • Finnish missions abroad report events that affect travel safety on an occasional or short-term basis.

Industrial action by staff at the hotel used by the tour organiser does not usually entitle the organiser to cancellation, as alternative accommodation is usually available. However, if the industrial action includes staff at all equivalent accommodation facilities used by the organiser at the destination, cancellation may be possible.

Refund in the event of cancellation

Travellers must be refunded any payments made on the package without undue delay and no later than 14 days after the package travel contract has been terminated by the organiser or traveller.

A cancellation fee must not be deducted from the refund when the organiser has cancelled the trip or the traveller has made the cancellation due to exceptional circumstances, an anticipated breach of contract or a significant change to the contract or the total price.

If the organiser cancels the trip due to low number of participants or because of exceptional circumstances, the traveller is not entitled to additional compensation for costs directly linked to the trip and incurred as a result of the cancellation (e.g. payments for visas or connecting transport services).

If you paid for your trip with a credit card, read about the creditor’s liability.

Vouchers as an alternative to a cash refund

As a rule, refunds on cancelled packages should be paid in cash.

However, in exceptional circumstances, vouchers may be offered as an alternative to a cash refund. Vouchers can usually be used to purchase another travel package at a later date.

The traveller must be given a choice if a voucher is offered. Vouchers must not be presented as the only option, and travellers must not be expected to accept vouchers instead of a refund. Passengers must be paid the refund in cash if it is their preferred option.