Changing a travel package
In principle, both parties are bound by the package travel contract. However, before the trip, both the traveller and the organiser can make changes to the contract within certain limits.
The traveller’s right to change or transfer the contract
In some cases, travellers can make changes to their booking. The right to make changes depends on the terms and conditions of the package.
According to the general terms and conditions of package travel, the traveller may change the departure date, destination or hotel no later than 45 days before the start of the trip, provided that they pay for any price difference and the administration fee.
The traveller can transfer the package travel contract to another person provided that there are no restrictions in the terms and conditions regarding the participants.
The organiser may refuse to accept the transfer if, for example:
- the trip is only for members of a certain association and the new traveller is not a member
- travel requires documents obtained by the organiser (e.g. a group visa) and it would be considerably difficult to obtain a new document
- the new traveller cannot be placed in the booked accommodation due to their sex.
The organiser must be notified of the transfer no later than seven days before the start of the trip. The notification must be done in a durable medium, for example by e-mail. It may be acceptable to notify the organiser later if the transfer does not cause unreasonable difficulties to the organiser.
The organiser may charge a fee for the transfer. The organiser must inform the person transferring the package of the costs of the transfer, and the reasons for the costs.
- The fee should be reasonable and it should not exceed actual costs incurred.
- Costs can arise, for example, from changing names, cancelling tickets and issuing new tickets.
The transferrer and the recipient of the package are jointly responsible for paying the price of the trip and any fees for the transfer. If the price or fee remains unpaid, the organiser can demand payment from either party.
Changes to the price of travel package
The price agreed for a travel package cannot usually be changed after the contract has been concluded.
The organiser can increase the price after the contract has been made only if such a possibility is specified in the contract and the same grounds entitle the traveller to a possible price reduction. The contract terms must also state how price adjustments are calculated.
Any price increase to the package cannot exceed actual costs. Price increases may only be based on:
- changes in carriage costs due to fuel or other energy prices
- changes in taxes on travel services
- changes in third parties’ charges on travel services, such as taxes and other charges related to the use of airports or ports
- changes in exchange rates relevant to the travel package.
The traveller must be notified of the price increase no later than 20 days before the start of the trip. The notification must clearly state the amount, basis and calculation method of the price increase.
If the price increase is more than 8% of the total price of the package, the traveller is entitled to cancel the contract without a cancellation fee within a reasonable time after being informed of the increase. If the organiser does not specify a reasonable time limit, the cancellation must be done within seven days.
Once the traveller has cancelled the contract, the organiser must refund the payments without undue delay and within 14 days at the latest. Travellers may also be entitled to compensation.
If a traveller’s right to a price reduction is specified in the contract terms and the cost of the package decreases, the package price must be reduced by at least an equivalent amount.
- The organiser may deduct an administration fee from the refund amount.
- At the request of the traveller, the organiser must provide evidence for the administrative costs.
- The traveller has the right to a price reduction corresponding to any decrease in costs until the start of the trip. In other words, price reductions are not limited to 20 days before the start of the trip, although price increases are.
Other significant changes to the travel package
If the organiser has to make significant changes to main features of the travel services prior to the start of the trip, the traveller must be notified of the changes as soon as possible. The changes must be clearly, comprehensibly and prominently communicated to the traveller.
- The notification to the traveller must be made on durable medium and specify the following:
- The changes the organiser intends to make.
- Whether the changes will reduce the quality or value of the package.
- Any price reduction to which the traveller is entitled as a result of the changes.
- At what point the traveller is deemed to have accepted the changes. The traveller can be considered to have accepted the changes if they do not cancel the trip within a reasonable time limit as specified in the notification.
- Information on the substitute package and its price, if the organiser offers a substitute package to the traveller who cancelled the original trip.
If the organiser significantly changes any of the main features of the trip, the traveller may cancel the contract without a cancellation fee within the time limit specified by the organiser.
A significant change from the point of view of the traveller can be e.g.:
- changes to departure or arrival times which cause significant difficulty or additional costs, e.g. from having to reorganise transport or accommodation
- changes to forms of transport in a way that significantly increases travel time
- a change of daytime flight to a night-time flight, resulting in e.g. arrival after midnight instead of afternoon as originally agreed
- change of destination
- a clear reduction in the standard of the accommodation.
Changes that substantially change the nature of the trip can also be considered significant, for example, in the following cases:
- Change of accommodation from one that has been marketed as accessible, to one that is not accessible for people with disabilities.
- A guided trip becomes self-guided.
- Excursions that are essential parts of the trip are removed from the itinerary.
- A change of accommodation, where the original hotel was marketed as child-friendly with children’s pools, play areas and children’s club, and the replacement hotel does not have these services nor are they available in the vicinity without extra cost.
If the traveller does not accept the changes to the original package and cancels the contract:
- The organiser must refund the payments without undue delay and within 14 days at the latest.
- The organiser may offer a substitute package at its discretion.
The traveller has the right to compensation for damages caused by the cancellation, such as expenses incurred from visas that are no longer needed, or connecting travel arrangements.
If the traveller does not cancel the contract within the time limit specified by the organiser, the traveller is deemed to have accepted the changes and will then be entitled to a price reduction. In this case, the price reduction may correspond to a reduction in the standard of the package or to a reduction in costs incurred by the organiser.
Insignificant changes to travel packages
The organiser may make minor changes to the terms and conditions of the package travel contract before the start of the trip, provided that the right to do so is specified in the terms and conditions.
The organiser must inform the traveller of the changes in a clear, comprehensible and prominent manner.
Changes that may be considered minor include changes that are insignificant to the holiday as a whole and which the traveller can reasonably expect on the basis of the nature of the destination or trip, such as the cancellation of a single excursion included in the package, if the trip includes several excursions.
The organiser’s performance may be considered defective if changes to the package travel contract can be considered to be more substantial than minor changes, but they do not entitle the passenger to withdraw from the contract. In these cases, even if the package holiday cannot be cancelled, the traveller may be entitled to a price reduction and compensation for damages incurred as a result of the change.