Customer's withdrawal from the package travel contract in extraordinary circumstances


An earthquake, a hurricane, a terrorist attack, an epidemic, a volcano eruption, or a political takeover - these and similar unexpected events (Force Majeure) allow for a customer's withdrawal from a package travel contract without a cancellation fee.

In our specialized travel law practice, we have repeatedly encountered misunderstandings relating to the conditions under which a customer can exercise their right of withdrawal from a contract without incurring cancellation fees. Such misunderstandings often lead to unnecessary disputes between the tour operator and the customer.

The following conditions must be fulfilled in order for a customer to be entitled to withdraw from a package travel contract without the obligation to pay a cancellation fee- (a) unavodiable and extraordinary circumstances have occurred at the destination of the trip or stay or its immediate vicinity; and (b) the said circumstances significantly impact the carriage of passengers to their destination, or the providing of the package travel.

Example of a situation where the conditions are met - A terrorist attack has taken place at the destination of a package that combines the air travel and a museum tour at the destination. This terrorist attack causes the airport and museums to close. It will, therefore, be an unavoidable and extraordinary circumstance at the destination of the package that has a significant impact on the provision of the services included in the package, and the transport of passengers to the destination itself. In this case, the customer has the right to withdraw from the contract and is entitled to a refund of all payments made, without any deductions on account of cancellation fees. However, the customer is not entitled to compensation from the tour operator for any damage incurred.

Example of a situation where the conditions are not met - A terrorist attack takes place at the destination of the package, but it has not caused the airport or museums to close. Although circumstances are unavoidable and extraordinary, and they are at the destination of the trip or stay, they do not have a significant impact on the provision of the services included in the package or on the transport of customers to the destination. In this situation, the customer may withdraw from the contract, but the tour operator shall have the right to charge a cancellation fee. At present, there is no judicial authority to adjudicate or declare that such extraordinary circumstances that meet these conditions have or have not occurred in a particular destination. General information in the form of recommendations is published on the website of the Ministry of Forreign Affairs, , but they do not necessarily reflect the nature and extent of the circumstances with respect to the fulfillment of an individual package travel contract. Therefore, in each individual case, it is necessary to examine the scope and nature of the circumstances at the destination, and their impact on the fulfillment of the contents of the package agreed between the parties.