Legal issues with package holidays in Spain

1. Package holiday

1.1. General information

When you purchase a package holiday, you enter into a contract with the tour operator, which includes two or more of the following services: transport, accommodation, half or full board, etc; which duration is over 24 hours or which include at least one night’s accommodation.

Before formalizing the contract, the dealer agency or organizer must inform you about the contents of the contractual terms, e.g. get advised about optional subscription to an insurance covering the costs of cancellation and/or covering the costs of repatriation in case of accident, illness or death.

The travel contract must be formalised in writing, you should be provided with a copy. Conditions must be clearly written.

2. Package holiday booking conditions

This section describes the minimum contents of the contract entered with the tour operator:

  • Destination, dates and time of departure and return.
  • Your travel description, as well as the type and category of transport contracted (plane, train, ship, etc;).
  • If the travel includes accommodation, its location, category of accommodation and board contracted (B&B, half or full board) must be specified, as well as any other services contracted such as excursions, visits, etc;
  • Special requirements you have contracted with the dealer agency, e.g. triple bedroom, cot;
  • The time period to confirm the reservations.
  • In case the package holiday is subject to a minimum number of inscriptions, number of persons needed to initiate the travel and closing date must be specified. Cancellation of the travel must be informed at least 10 days prior to departure.
  • The price of the package holiday and possible price revision. When taxes are not included, the contract shall specify it, the contract shall also contain the payment terms and financing.
  • You must inform the agency dealer about any incorrect fulfilment of the contract. You are entitled to file your claim within 2 years from the date of the travel.
  • Details of the organizer or dealer agency, and the insurer details when necessary.

In the event that before travel departure, the organizer or dealer agency is obliged to significantly modify some essential element of the contract, including the price, you may choose to resolve the contract or accept a modification of the contract, in which case the variations made and their repercussion in the price must be specified.

3. Brochures and information sheets

The organizer or the dealer agency is obliged to give you the brochure containing written information with description of the package holiday. The brochure shall contain, at least, the following items:

  • Destination and means of transport, mentioning its main characteristics and types.
  • Duration, itinerary and dates of the travel.
  • Official grade (stars or similar) of the accommodation shall be mentioned in the brochure, as well as its location and main characteristics.
  • Type of board (breakfast, half or full board).
  • General information about the necessary documentation for the chosen travel (passports and visas) as well as the sanitary formalities needed.
  • Price of the travel and optional excursions, form of payment and financing conditions.
  • Terms applicable for responsibility, cancellations and conditions of the travel.
  • Organizer details and its representative in Spain.
  • Any other information about the main characteristics of the travel.

When you pick up a brochure, remember that it is the basis of a legal contract, descriptions in brochures bind the organizer or dealer, except in the following cases:

  • When you have been previously informed in writing about changes in the brochure.
  • When you have accepted in writing those changes after having signed the travel contract.

4. Passing the reservation to a third person

You may pass gratuitously your reservation for package holiday onto a third person, who must meet the same requirements than the transferor.

This transfer shall be noticed in writing to the organizer or dealer agency 15 days before the start of the travel.

In this case transferor and transferee are jointly liable for payment of the total price of the trip and for the additional expenses incurred due to the transfer of the contract.

5. Change of the contract conditions by the tour operator

In the event that the organizer or dealer agency is forced to significantly change your holiday conditions, including the price, you must be informed immediately.

In this case you may either terminate the contract or accept the alterations to it, which shall be expressed in writing specifying their repercussion in the final price of the travel. You must communicate your decision to the dealer within 3 days following notification, otherwise the contract will be terminated without penalization.

If you decide to terminate the contract, you will be entitled to the following options:

  • A full refund of the money paid, or a substitute package of equivalent quality, provided that the dealer can organize it.
  • A substitute cheaper package where the organizer or dealer agency shall refund the difference.
  • A compensation owing to non-fulfilment of the contract, which shall be:
    • 5% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the said non-fulfilment occurred between 2 months and 15 days before the date of departure.
    • 10 % of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred between 15 and 3 days prior the start of the travel.
    • 25% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred 48 hours prior the start of the travel.

6. Cancellation of your holiday by the organizer or dealer

If the organizer or the dealer cancels the travel prior departure, due to any cause for which you are not responsible, you are entitled to the following:

  • A refund of the money you already paid or the right to a similar package holiday, provided that the organizer or dealer can organize it.If you have been offered a new lower-quality travel, the organizer or dealer shall refund you the difference between the money already paid and the price of the new travel.
  • Any of the following indemnities for breach of contract:
    • 5% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the said non-fulfilment occurred between 2 months and 15 days before the date of start of the travel.
    • 10 % of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred between 15 and 3 days prior the start of the travel.
    • 25% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred 48 hours before departure.

There will be no obligation to pay indemnity under the following circumstances:

  • When cancellation is due to the fact that the number of persons booking the package holiday do not reach the minimum required. You must be informed in writing about this at least 10 days before the deadline date stated in the contract.
  • When cancellation is due to force majeure: when abnormal and unexpected circumstances (earthquake, fire, flooding 😉 arise.

7. What if either the organizer or the dealer does not confirm your reservation?

In this case you will be entitled to the following:

  • Either a refund of the money already paid or the right to a , similar package holiday provided that the organizer or dealer may organize it If you have been offered a new lower-quality travel, the organizer or dealer shall refund you the difference between the money already paid and the price of the new travel.
  • The indemnity owing for breach of the contract, which shall be any of the following:
    • 5% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the said non-fulfilment occurred between 2 months and 15 days before the date of departure of the travel.
    • 10 % of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred between 15 and 3 days prior the start of the travel.
    • 25% of the total price of the travel contracted, if the non-fulfilment occurred 48 hours prior the start of the travel.

8. What if you decide no to travel?

You may, at all times, waive the travel contracted, having a right to the refund of the money already paid. Except in case of force majeure, you should pay the organizer or dealer for the following:

  • Expenses for travel arrangement.
  • Expenses for cancellation.
  • Penalization which amount will vary depending on the date the cancellation of the travel has been notified:
    • Between 10 and 15 days before the date of departure, penalization will be 5% of the total price of the travel contracted.
    • Between 3 and 10 days before the date of departure, penalization will be 15 % of the total price of the travel contracted.
    • Within 48 hours before departure, penalization will be 25% of the total price of the travel contracted.

9. The price of the package travel

The price of the package travel is that you agreed in the contract, which normally coincides with the price the organizer or dealer previously offered.

The price may be reviewed, when stated in the travel contract and provided that the following circumstances exist:

  • The criteria to calculate the new price of the travel shall be established.
  • The revision of the price shall be made as a consequence of the variations on the transport costs, including the fuel costs, taxes and duties and the exchange rates applicable to the package holiday l.
  • The prices may raise or fall, any clause stating that revisions will only be made to raise the travel price will be null.

Regarding to bookings already undertaken, no price raise shall be made during the 20 days prior the date of departure, any clause stating this will be null. damages

10. Organizer and Dealer’s liability

The Organizers and the dealer agencies of the package holiday shall respond to the consumer for the correct fulfilment of the obligations derived from the contract, regardless of whether these should be executed by themselves or by the services providers.

The organizers and dealers are liable for the damages you may suffer as a consequence of non-execution or deficient execution of the contract.

The said liability ceases when any of the following circumstances occur:

  • When the defects of the services contracted are attributable to the consumers.
  • When the said defects are attributable to a third party who did not contract the travel services and which are of an unforeseeable character.
  • The said defects are due to force majeure; unforeseeable circumstances, the consequences of which could not have been avoided (e.g. natural disasters).
  • The defects are due to an event which the organizer or dealer could neither foresee nor avoid, in spite of using the necessary diligence.

Notwithstanding, except for the case that the defects are attributable to consumers, in the rest of the circumstances either the organizer or the dealer is obliged to help the consumer.

Compensation for damages is limited to what is established in the International Treaties.

11. What if the organizer cannot supply the conditions agreed in the contract after departure date?

In the event that after departure date the organizer cannot provide you with part of the services you contracted, he must adopt suitable solutions for continuing the trip at no additional price and, if applicable, shall pay the sum of the difference between the services contracted and those supplied.

If you continue the travel, it is understood that the alternative solutions provided are tacitly accepted.

You may not accept for reasonable motives the solutions the organizer or dealer proposed, in which case the organizer must provide you with an equivalent means of transport to that used on the trip for you to return to the place of departure or to any other which both had convened, regardless the corresponding indemnity you must be paid.

12. Claims

Claims may be filed within 2 years from the date in which you contracted your package holiday, you may either bring judicial action before the ordinary civil courts (tribunales civiles ordinarios), or channelling your claim through the Consumption Arbitration Board, in this case both parties shall previously agree to willingly submit to arbitration.

The dealer agencies must have have forms (hojas de reclamación) available for the consumers to state their claims.

You will need skilled legal counsel for either of these actions, you should consult a Spanish Lawyer who may advise you whether it is convenient to bring legal action or not.

13. Organizer and Dealer’s liability

The type of proceeding to be brought before the Spanish courts will depend on the amount to be claimed. Oral procedure (Procedimiento Oral) will be taken for claims which amount does not exceed € 6.000 Ordinary procedure (Procedimiento Ordinario) will be taken when the amount the plaintiff claims is higher than € 60.00.

14. Getting legal help

Our lawyers provide solid legal advice in connection with package holidays in Spain:
» Ask an English-speaking Spanish lawyer now

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