Tourism and transport in Europe
If you are travelling by public transport, you are protected by the law anywhere in Europe. This applies to journeys by boat, train or airplane. For example, you have a right to information from the operator if your trip is delayed. Sometimes, you also have a right to assistance or compensation. If you have booked both the trip and an accommodation from the same provider, this is known as a package tour. There are European regulations for package tours as well.
Here you can read more about the European regulations that apply to the promotion, sale and execution of transport services and package tours. Some EU nations have additional national legislation that offers you even more protection.
What are the rules?
Good to know
My flight is delayed. What are my rights?
The airline must offer you “care” free of charge. The nature of this care depends on the duration of the flight and the length of the delay:
- For flights of 1,500 km or less with a delay of two hours or more;
- For flights within the EU of more than 1,500 km with a delay of three hours or more;
- For flights outside the EU of 1,500 to 3,500 km with a delay of three hours or more;
- For flights outside the EU of more than 3,500 km with a delay of four hours or more.
While you wait, you have a right to the following care in the aforementioned cases:
- Free drinks and meals in fair proportion to the length of the delay;
- The opportunity to send two email, fax or telex messages free of charge;
- Free hotel accommodation if you have to wait for the delayed flight for one or more nights;
- Free hotel accommodation if your stay has to be prolonged as a result of the delay;
- Free transport to and from the hotel accommodation and the airport.
In the event of a delay of more than five hours, you can cancel your flight in all cases. You have a right to a full refund of the cost of your unused ticket. If it concerns a return flight, the airline must offer you a free alternative return flight. If you are stranded at a transfer airport and it is not possible to continue your journey, you have a right to a free return flight back to the airport from which you departed.
Compensation in the event of a delayed flight
If you arrive three hours or more later than planned at your ticket’s final destination, you can claim a compensation for the delayed flight from the airline.
- € 250 for flights up to and including 1,500 km;
- € 400 for flights within the EU of more than 1,500 km;
- € 400 for flights outside the EU between 1,500 and 3,500 km;
- € 600 for flights of more than 3,500 km.
I want to rent a car in a foreign country. What should I look out for?
Be careful when renting a car in a foreign country. It is not uncommon for rental companies to charge additional expenses. If you have any problems, we can assist you with advice and support.
It is very well possible to rent a car in advance via the internet. We would advise you to pay attention to the following:
- The additional cost for a second driver;
- The cost of filling the gas tank when returning the car;
- The cost of insurance;
- The maximum number of kilometres;
- The driver’s minimum age;
- The amount of the deposit for the car;
- The amount of the compulsory excess.
Damage to or theft of a rental car do not fall under the coverage of continuous travel insurance. You are usually offered several insurance options when renting a car. Carefully examine what each insurance offers and decide what you need. Make sure not to take out the same insurance twice.
If you are renting via a mediator, you must hand the voucher to the rental company. This voucher lists the insurance you took out. Make sure not to take out the same insurance again.
Inspect the rental car for damage in advance and together with a representative of the rental company. Write down any damage or take pictures. This prevents any disputes later. Some rental companies charge additional costs when picking up the car, e.g. VAT, a booking fee or documentation costs. Check whether these costs are justifiable.
If your rental car breaks down during the rental period, contact the rental company. They are required to come up with a solution. Do not have the car fixed yourself without conferring with the rental company.
Tips for renting a car in a foreign country:
- Are you required to return the car with a full tank of gas? If so, fill the car up shortly before returning it and save the receipt;
- If the rental car got damaged, have the rental company write down the damage. This prevents them from holding you responsible for other damages as well later on;
- Return the car during the rental company’s opening hours. Go over everything carefully with a representative from the rental company. Always check your final bill. Was part of the deposit not returned and is that justifiable?
- If you return the car outside the rental company’s opening hours, be sure to take pictures of the state you left the car in.
If it turns out that too much money was charged to your credit card after the rental period, immediately contact your credit card company and the rental company. You can file a complaint with us if you cannot resolve the issue directly with the rental company. We will act as mediators between you and the rental company, free of charge.
My package tour was not what I was promised. What now?
If an important part of the promised tour is not provided or if your trip is not what you had expected, the tour operator has to offer you a suitable alternative free of charge.
If the alternative does not offer what you might reasonably expect or if you do not agree with the offer for another valid reason, you have a right to compensation and possibly a free return journey. You must report any complaints about the package tour to the tour operator as quickly as possible during the trip, so the operator will have a chance to remedy the situation.
If you are not satisfied with the way your complaint was handled, you can file a written complaint with the tour operator after returning home. We recommend that you collect as much evidence as possible to support your complaint. Your travel agreement has to list the period during which any complaints about the package tour may be submitted.
What happens if something changes after I book my trip?
The tour operator is required to honour any agreements made with you. If your package tour is subject to significant changes before departure, the tour operator must inform you about the situation as quickly as possible. If you do not accept any of these changes, you have several options:
- Cancel the trip. You must be refunded the full amount of what you paid, without deduction of a cancellation fee;
- Accept an equal or better alternate package tour;
- Accept an inferior package tour including a compensation for the price difference.
You do not have these options in the event of a minor change, e.g. having to use a different airport for your departure or arrival. If you can prove that a change has a significant negative impact on you, you do not have to accept the change.
My train was delayed or cancelled. Do I have a right to compensation?
If the train is expected to be delayed for more than sixty minutes, you can choose between the following forms of compensation:
- Refund of the full cost of your ticket;
- Refund of the cost of the part of the journey you did not complete;
- Refund of the cost of the part of the journey you did complete.
The latter compensation applies when your journey has become futile in light of the original travel plan. In that case, you also have a right to a return journey at the earliest opportunity to your point of departure.
You can also choose to continue your journey along the normal or an alternative route. This occurs under similar conditions, at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of your choosing.
You can claim compensation for the delay from the railway company if you opt to continue your journey in spite of the delay. The minimum compensation is:
- 25% of the cost of your ticket in the event of a delay between 60-119 minutes;
- 50% of the cost of your ticket in the event of a delay of 120 minutes or more.
Your right to compensation lapses if the cancellation, delay or missed connection is the result of force majeure.