If you’ve looked into good protection in travel before, it’s almost certain that you’ve heard the term ‘package holidays’ a fair few times. Being one of the easiest forms of protection to achieve, and one of the simplest ways to book your next holiday, we at PTS, the CAA, and many others in travel always highly recommend that consumers book a package holiday instead of booking individually.
Knowing what a package holiday is and being able to understand how it works in your favour can go a long way to instilling consumer confidence in a way to book and help you find the travel businesses that are best for the holiday you’re looking to venture out on.
For this reason, we, as travel experts, are always looking to keep our consumers as informed as we can, so that you can understand how your travel works and make the decisions that are not only the safest for your holiday but are the best decisions for you. Knowing how and when you’re protected gives you the freedom to find the best holiday you can with few worries.
What is a Package Holiday?
So, what actually is a package holiday? Very often we encourage consumers to book package holidays over anything else for the best financial protection but knowing what a package holiday is and how to recognise it is an important factor in that.
The definition of a package holiday according to the Package Travel Regulations (you can find these on the government website) is quite simple and should be easy to recognise. A package holiday is a holiday booking that is sold under one price and contains more than one element. These elements could be but are not limited to:
- Flights or other transport
- Car Hire
- Tourism bookings (such as cooking classes, city tours, ski trips, etc.)
If the package does include a tourism element, then that element must be a prominent part of the package for it to fall under the protection of the PTRs.
For these things, a package will be easy to recognise as you’re booking it, but if you’re unsure at any point, the travel business you’re booking with is also under an obligation to tell you that you are booking a package holiday when you book and will provide information accordingly as dictated by the Package Travel Regulations.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are some exceptions to what will be constituted as a package and therefore protected, under the PTRs. You can find out more about what is and isn’t protected by the PTRs in our Ultimate Consumer Guide, but as relates to packages, there are only a few small considerations to keep in mind.
- If your booking is under 24 hours and does not include an overnight stay, then it does not constitute a package holiday.
- If your booking is a business trip or the trip is offered on a not-for-profit basis (e.g. it is organised by a local sports team etc.), it may not be protected under the PTRs.
These exceptions are only small details, but they’re worth keeping in mind or checking off when you are booking just in case.
Another point of confusion to note is surrounding holidays such as cruises, which are considered package holidays under the Package Travel Regulations since they provide accommodation, tourism elements, and transport within the cruise itself, this is dependent on it being sold to you as such.
Domestic holidays are also still covered under the Package Travel Regulations as package holidays. The only big difference here is that a package that does not include a flight will not be covered by the ATOL scheme, which is a different form of protection specific to package bookings that include flights. However, the Package Travel Regulations cover will remain the same.
How Are Package Holidays Better Protected Than Individual Bookings?
Package holidays can be protected in a few different ways, but they are predominantly, and consistently, protected under the Package Travel Regulations. These also cover linked travel arrangements, though linked travel arrangements are lacking a lot of the financial protection that package holidays receive due to how they are purchased.
When it comes to the difference in protection comparatively between package holidays and individual bookings, the gap is mainly on the side of financial protection. There are independent forms of protection that can be applied to all holidays, such as travel insurance or paying with a credit card for protection under the Consumer Credit Act. However, these forms of protection are not going to cover a lot of issues you may face on holiday that will be covered by the Package Travel Regulations.
For example, good travel insurance provides amazing protection for medical issues, stolen property, and cancellations, however, it will not cover insolvency issues that the PTRs will cover. The credit card cover is also not as absolute as the PTRs or our trust account solution.
Though there are advantages and more freedom to making individual bookings because you are not provided with this cover from the PTRs, it’s incredibly important to be aware of this before you book so that you can be prepared for any problems you might face.
Some of the things that the Package Travel Regulations will cover for your package holiday are as follows:
- Insolvency – If your travel business goes bust or stops selling after you book or while you’re on holiday, the PTRs will cover you financially for this and either allow you to get a refund or continue your holiday uninterrupted.
- Unexpected and Unavoidable Circumstances – If something goes wrong as an effect of unexpected and unavoidable circumstances, then any aid for this will be covered by the PTRs. This could mean a refund, a reimbursement, a cancellation, a rebooking, or a return from holiday, but you are protected in this situation.
- Cancellations – This will depend on the circumstances under which you or the company file a cancellation, but you can also be covered for some cancellations under the Package Travel Regulations.
- Damages or Contract Unfulfilled – This entails anything that goes wrong on your holiday or isn’t as agreed in the contract for the package. Whether you were placed in a hotel of different quality than agreed, or the supplier you had a booking with goes out of business after you book, these circumstances will be financially covered by the Package Travel Regulations.
Other ways your package holiday is protected are as follows:
- ATOL Protection – If you book a flight as part of your package, then that package will be protected by the ATOL Scheme (you can find out more about ATOL protection on our ‘what is ATOL?‘ blog.)
- PTS Protection – When you book with a Protected Trust Services (PTS) member your monies are protected in our independent trust account, ensuring that your money is constantly protected from the moment you book to the moment you arrive home. PTS is also the only business in the UK travel industry that reconciles daily, down to each individual booking, meaning you can call up at any time and ask where your money is.
So, when you’re ready to book your next great getaway, don’t forget to get in contact with a trusted PTS member. Or, if you don’t know which of our spectacular members to choose, you can call PTS directly at 0207 190 9988 for assistance in picking the right business for you.