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Dynamic package holidays – how protected are you?

Dynamic package holidays are becoming more and more common, but you may not be as protected as you think if things go wrong.

A dynamic package holiday is when separate parts of the holiday are bought from different suppliers – such as flights, hotel accommodation, even resort transfers.

Dynamic Package Holidays - Are you protected?

A regulated package holiday is when two or more services, such as flights and accommodation, are bought for an inclusive single price from one supplier – and this type of holiday is protected by powerful consumer laws.

Dynamic package holidays are not protected, and sometimes you may not even be aware that yours is a dynamic package – some travel companies simply act as ‘middlemen’, selling you a holiday and then outsourcing the different aspects such as flights and accommodation to other firms. If things go wrong, that’s when dynamic gets difficult.

The easiest way to discover if yours is a dynamic or regulated package holiday is to ask before you book – is this holiday protected by the Package Travel Regulations 1992? If the answer is ‘no’, then proceed with caution to protect your money.

The next question - is this holiday ATOL protected? If the answer is ‘no’ DO NOT make any holiday arrangements with that company. Anyone selling air seats must hold an ATOL (Air Transport Operators Licence) – if the airline goes bust you will lose your money and could end up stranded abroad.

Next to ask – is this holiday ABTA or AITO protected? If it is and your travel agent or flight operator goes bust, your money should be safe.

However, if your flight operator goes bust it may be just the money you’ve paid for the flights that’s protected – not the money for your accommodation or other services.

Check, check and check again what’s covered and what’s not. Get everything in writing. If you are booking online look for travel trade association logos and check what consumer forums have to say.

If yours is a dynamic package and you have a complaint you’ll have to take it up with the supplier of the service, not your travel agent. So if your hotel accommodation isn’t up to standard, you’ll need to deal direct with the accommodation supplier. If you wish to claim compensation, you’ll have to do so using the legal system of the supplier’s country. This is difficult and expensive. On a regulated package holiday your tour operator has a legal obligation to ‘deliver the goods’ - and if they don’t you can claim holiday compensation. On a dynamic holiday, you’re on your own when it comes to claiming compensation.

Also, if your holiday plans are affected by industrial action or adverse weather conditions you could well lose money, for example you won’t get a refund on your accommodation costs just because your flight operator couldn’t get you there. The same applies if your flight operator goes bust before the holiday. You still pay for the accommodation because it’s still there waiting for you. Check your travel insurance carefully to see what’s covered – there is Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) which could help, but some airlines are excluded.

On a regulated package holiday, when things go wrong, you’d get a full refund.

Also, don’t think you’re protected by paying with a credit card – on a dynamic package holiday your travel agent simply organises the holiday, but each aspect of it is supplied by different companies. So you cannot claim compensation from your travel agent, only from the suppliers. And that means you can’t claim your money back from the credit card company because you must have a ‘like claim’ against your travel agent.

TOP TIP: If you decide to book air seats directly with an airline and the cost is more than £100 in total then pay at least part of the cost using a credit card (not a debit or charge card). In this circumstance if the airline goes bust your credit card company will be responsible for reimbursing you the total cost of your lost flights and any reasonably incurred expenses you suffer as a consequence.

Our advice to protect your money or to be able to claim compensation when things go wrong is to always book a regulated package holiday with a recognised tour operator. Dynamic packages may be cheaper to start out with – but they can end up costing you dear. And remember, when a dynamic package holiday goes wrong, it’s nigh on impossible to claim the holiday compensation you deserve.

Freephone: 0808 145 1353 or drop us a line using the form above.

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Dated: 01/03/2011

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