what are the obligations of travel agents, according to Emmanuelle Llop

Transavia cancels 25% to 30% of flights until Sunday due to a strike. Heathrow is asking airlines to stop selling airline tickets. Lufthansa is canceling 7% of its flights this summer due to staff shortages. In the middle of the summer holiday period, flying becomes an obstacle course.

Luftkabyssen continues with a SAS return flight Bergen-Zürich, which was canceled on July 13, a travel agency recently told the CDMV group. Therefore, it is a very legitimate question that many professionals ask themselves. “Should the company find us a plane and a hotel? Who pays for the extra nights if she leaves us in the lurch? The client (22 people) or us?” The bill can be salty … This agency had already repaid Oslo-Harstad- the flight after a cancellation of flights and two nights in Oslo instead of the North Cape.

To answer her questions, we interviewed Emmanuelle Llop, a lawyer at Equinoxe Avocats, after L’Echo touristique’s webinar on the topic she had participated in. Here are his recommendations, useful to know as a travel professional and also to share with her client to clear up in any misunderstandings.

As part of a dry flight

Legally, it is necessary to clearly distinguish between the sale of a plane ticket alone and the sale of a package tour.

“Even though the agencies feel the urge to help their customers, to whom they have only sold one flight, it should never be forgotten that they are not obligated to go beyond their mission of selling the original ticket,” explains Emmanuelle Llop. They act within the framework of a dual mandate: by the customer requesting to have him sold and issued a ticket, and by the company that has entrusted the agency with the task of issuing his tickets. If the Agency has carried out its mission correctly, ie its mandate, it has not made any mistakes and assumes no responsibility if the transport contract itself – which exists between the passenger and the carrier – suffers from changes: cancellations, delays, refusal boarding, changes. ..

In the case suffered by this agency’s client, only the company (we are in the EU) has to help and take care of the passenger : choice between reimbursement or replacement flight under comparable conditions and as soon as possible, meals / refreshments, overnight stays and transfers (EU Regulation 261/2004), compensation of 250, 400 or 600 euros depending on the distance to theft in the absence of exceptional circumstances, which relieves company liability. The Agency may instruct its client to assert its rights, but may not assume liability.. »

As part of a package

For the sale of a package, such as a week in a hotel club from Paris, the rights and obligations of distributors are largely different. Then the principle of full responsibility applies, now shared between the tour operator and the distributing agency. And this in accordance with the Tourism Code, which allows for the implementation of the European Directive 2015/2302 on package travel and related travel services. This does not relieve the carrier of its obligations at all.

“The company must always offer the solutions specified in regulation 261/2004,” recalls Emmanuelle Llop. According to the change caused by the cancellation and the change of the flight, it may be a minor change to the package (a few hours difference) which does not impose any obligation on the agency other than to inform the client clearly; (in writing: e-mail, SMS, customer account messages). »

“In the event of a major change before departure, the customer should be offered the choice between accepting the change or refusing it with cancellation of the contract at no charge., especially if there is a price difference, because even though the company has to offer a new flight at no extra cost, extra costs are always possible. Therefore, if the replacement flight incurs additional costs, several scenarios are possible: payment from the agency and / or TO and / or the company and / or the customer. If you have to pay these costs due to the company, it is under certain conditions possible to demand payment from it.

In the case of the return flight, the carrier as an agency and TO have the same obligation to accommodate passengers until the return flight, with a limit of 3 nights for agencies and TO (on similar terms), while companies have the same obligation without a time limit (be careful, also no time limit for vulnerable people). Without forgetting that the agencies and TOs have the opportunity to make use of their recourse against the airline that has not fulfilled its obligations to take responsibility. In summary, it is better to try here to help the traveler and find a return solution for him because of the full responsibility, even if it means stepping in against the defaulted carrier.. »

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