Travel isn’t always easy and I’m a big proponent of live and let live. But sometimes you face trouble abroad and it’s important to know your travel rights. As our world becomes more and more connected, travel rights will become increasingly more important on a global scale. I’m far from an expert on travel rights or legal issues that pop up during holidays, vacations or trips, but as a regular consumer, I do feel a certain need to be aware of my basic travel rights.
And you know what I realized? I don’t actually know my travel rights.
Flight interruptions, cancellations and passenger rights
This has long been an issue for air travelers and in the past several years, it’s increasingly come up in news media and government legislation. In the European Union, there are some basic rights regarding flights. With any flight that departs from the EU, or any EU-based flight flying into the EU, you’re entitled to a variety of services. Airplane tickets may be refunded or alternative transport options provided if a flight is cancelled or overbooked. Financial compensation is also available for extenuating circumstances. Learn more at Europa.eu’s Air Passenger Rights.
In the USA there are several pieces of legislation which have been passed in recent years to give more rights to airline passengers. The Department of Transportation has a comprehensive list of passenger rights regarding air travel (available here). Famously referred to as the Passenger Bill of Rights, these regulations have affected how consumers are treated by airlines—especially in regard to excessive hidden fees and tarmac delays. An advocacy group, Flyer’s Rights, has been championing these causes for years and has a lot of valuable and helpful information on their website.
Rights when booking group tours or package holidays
In the UK, as part of the “Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations Act 1992,” consumers have basic travel rights when package holidays are booked through an agent. The law dictates that people who are sold a pre-arranged holiday have certain travel rights. A pre-arranged holiday according the UK law means two of the following criteria must be part of the package tour: transport, accommodation or other significant services (ie, tour guide). The act is designed to protect UK citizens against negligent tour providers.
Tour operators can be deemed negligent for any number of reasons (badly run hotels, poor hygiene, below-par maintenance standards) and sometimes legal action can be taken.
Do you buy travel insurance when booking holidays? Are you aware of what rights you do and don’t have when you travel? Have you ever faced a serious travel dilemma caused by a travel company?