Welcome to the new website for Travel Law Quarterly

1st November 2016 by Professor David Grant

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A warm welcome to the newly launched online-only version of the Travel Law Quarterly. Those of you who were regular readers of the hard copy version of the TLQ will know what to expect – articles of specific interest to all sectors of the travel industry written by experts in the field.

In addition there are a wide variety of travel law materials available in the ‘Resources’ section of the website. The ‘Digest’ has been renamed the ‘Bulletin’ and this will include items of news and recent developments in law and practice in the travel industry. The overall aim is to provide comprehensive and relevant coverage of all things related to travel law.

We start off with a series of articles on the new Package Travel Directive (2015/2302) intended to show what the new rules will be once they are implemented and provide guidance to tour operators and travel agents as to their new responsibilities. The first of these articles follows immediately after this editorial.

What does Brexit mean for travel law and the travel industry? The latest on this issue revolves around the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ announced by Theresa May on 2 October. Essentially this Bill is intended to remove the European Communities Act (ECA) 1972 from UK law at the point we exit from the EU – but to incorporate EU law into UK law at the same time. This would then allow the UK government to repeal or amend or retain EU law at its own pace.

As far as package travel is concerned this would mean that up to the point we exit the EU, which would not be until 2019 or later, the Package Travel Regulations, which are currently part of UK law would remain so until at least then. After Brexit the government would then have to consider what to do with them. A complication however is that the new Package Travel Directive, is already in force and as members of the EU we are obliged to implement it by July 2018 so it looks as though that too will become part of UK law and will replace the current Regulations. Whether a future government would seek to repeal such an important consumer protection measure is doubtful.

Much the same situation exists in regard to Regulation 261/2004 on denied boarding, cancellation and delays of flights, Although an EU regulation rather than a directive it looks as though that too will continue in force after Brexit, until the government decides what to do with it. Given its great unpopularity amongst airlines the government may be subjected to more intense lobbying than it would be in the case of the Package Travel Regulations,

Ever since Michael O’Leary had a Damascene conversion in relation to customer service and promised not to ‘unnecessarily piss people off’ I have had high hopes of this policy being adopted by other no frills airlines – but no such luck. Currently I am in dispute with an OTA and an airline for being overcharged and for having charges for those little ‘extras’ imposed upon me that make a cheap flight so much more expensive. (Type ‘Flights for 50p’ into YouTube for an extreme example of this.)

The dispute is quite simple. First, I booked three seats on a flight at a price of £601 (and this is confirmed on the receipt/invoice I received from the airline) but on checking my credit card bill I have been charged £621. Secondly, the price I paid included a sum for three checked bags. However, on checking the documentation it says I will be charged a further $45 or $50 for each carry on bag that we bring aboard. This was not a charge that was revealed during the online booking procedure.

Several attempts to have the situation rectified by contacting the customer services department of the OTA have ended in stalemate. They have refused to accept responsibility for the misleading nature of the booking process and have referred me to the airline – which being foreign and having no place of business here in the UK will not, I suspect, be susceptible to any request by me to resolve the matter. The OTA is now entirely unresponsive to further emails.

I do of course have rights under s.75 of the Consumer Credit Act and in this respect I am quite fortunate in that my credit card bill breaks down the charge into two parts – a sum paid directly to the airline and a separate sum to the OTA. This means that if I seek to query the payment made direct to the airline I will not be met by the argument that s.75 doesn’t protect me because the credit was extended by the travel agent not the airline – in this case it was extended to both.

However I am loath to invoke s.75 at this stage and put the payment into dispute. One hears such nightmare stories about flights being cancelled in these circumstances that I fear

turning up at check-in and finding that we don’t have reservations. Further action will have to wait until we have arrived home.

 

David Grant

Editor in Chief

david.grant@tlq.travel

About the Author

David Grant is Professor Emeritus at Northumbria University and was Visiting Professor of Travel Law at Leeds Metropolitan University.

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