The resurgence of the epidemic in certain regions of Europe and the resulting health restrictions may lead holidaymakers to cancel their stay. But beware, reimbursement is not guaranteed.
The vaccines promised us a summer without health restrictions, but the Covid and its variants decided otherwise. Faced with the resurgence of the epidemic linked in particular to the arrival of the Delta variant, travel conditions are tightening in Europe. The first brake was applied by the Minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, on July 8, advising the French “to avoid theSpain and the Portugal». He then announced, on July 15, additional measures for unvaccinated tourists from these two countries. It is now generalized: from August 1, all travel in Europe and the rest of the world will be subject to restrictions. The French authorities will require a health pass for all travel by plane, train and long-distance bus.
So many obstacles to tourism that can encourage holidaymakers to cancel their stay. Then arises, with a certain feeling of deja-vu, the question of reimbursement of booked stays. If the stay is made impossible due to the pandemic, will it be reimbursed? In reality, it depends. The conditions differ firstly depending on whether the reservation concerns accommodation, a flight only or a package holiday (flight + accommodation).
Exceptional and unavoidable circumstances
You must refer to the general conditions of sale. They specify the cancellation and refund conditions and may differ depending on the hoteliers or booking platforms.
Obtaining a refund (if it is not foreseen from the outset in your conditions of sale) is unlikely. As long as the flight is maintained, the company is not obliged to reimburse customers. The conditions of sale and any travel insurance may cover epidemics, but this is not compulsory. If the flight is cancelled, however, the company is required to reimburse its customers.
- For package tours
The holidaymaker must be reimbursed if he proves that his stay is made impossible due to “exceptional and unavoidable circumstances”. In France, article L211-14 of the tourism code provides that: “The traveler has the right to terminate the contract before the start of the trip or stay without paying termination costs if exceptional and unavoidable circumstances, occurring at the place of destination or in the immediate vicinity of it, have significant consequences for performance of the contract or on the carriage of passengers to the place of destination. In this case, the traveler is entitled to a full refund of the payments made but not to additional compensation. In Europe, similar provisions are provided for by Article 12 of Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on package travel and linked travel arrangements.
Note that if the exceptional and unavoidable circumstances are recognized, the provider can offer a credit but cannot impose it. “If the traveler wishes to be reimbursed, he must be”confirms Professor Loïc Grard, President of the National University Council (CNU) public law section and specialist in transport and international trade law.
It is still necessary to succeed in demonstrating the exceptional and inevitable nature of these circumstances. To get an idea, we have selected five situations in which tourists would be tempted to cancel their stay. For each, Professor Loïc Grard gives his opinion on the probability of obtaining a refund, in the case of a package stay.
The health situation of my destination has deteriorated
“It must be demonstrated that exceptional and unavoidable circumstances justify the abandonment of the project; a particularly strong epidemic at the place of the intended destination can be considered as such – but this remains at the discretion of the travel organizer subject to control by the judge.
France has just classified my destination in orange and I am not vaccinated
“Vaccination is not compulsory, invoking exceptional and unavoidable circumstances is not meaningless. But you will probably be told that you can avoid the problem by getting vaccinated. So reimbursement is unlikely here. It is best to postpone the trip after vaccination. The word inevitable is of particular importance here. This case remains a possible nest of litigation.
The French authorities have just classified my destination in red
“The cancellation conditions are objectively characterized here since the country of departure has classified the area as unvisitable. Nothing can circumvent the obstacle, so providers must make a refund within two weeks. In addition, it is necessary to see to what extent the organizers can engage the responsibility of the State for abnormal and special damage to their place.
The country I’m going to no longer accepts French tourists
“Extraordinary and unavoidable circumstances are characterized therefore there must be a refund.”
I contract the Covid or become a contact case just before my departure
“The situation must be characterized as unavoidable. Couldn’t the person concerned avoid contamination? His lack of diligence can be invoked to refuse reimbursement – here too, nest of litigation.