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Wer für den Urlaub bereits gezahlt hat und die Reise absagen muss, fürchtet hohe Stornierungskosten, Bild: Jacob Lund / shutterstock

Carefree booking – You have these rights in the event of a short-term hindrance

In Germany, the classic travel season falls during the summer holidays. Families sometimes plan a year in advance where the well-deserved vacation should go. They are already looking forward to their summer holidays in January. However, it happens that this has to be cancelled at short notice. Whether illness, death or accident – many events over which humans have no influence can throw a spanner in the works.

Good for those who have travel cancellation insurance, it is said in this case. However, not all travel enthusiasts have taken precautions. Nevertheless, they do not necessarily have to worry about high cancellation fees.

Cancel the trip without travel cancellation insurance – and now?

Sun, summer, beach and sea: there are many reasons to go on holiday. Just as many can ensure that the planned trip has to be cancelled before departure. Those who have travel cancellation insurance can stay relaxed. The insurance covers the cancellation costs if:

  • Accidents or illness prevent the start of the trip,
  • the death of a close relative blows up the travel plan,
  • unexpected unemployment makes vacation impossible.

Of course, travelers without travel cancellation insurance are also allowed to cancel their vacation. However, the question arises as to what financial hurdles they will face. If you decide to cancel immediately after booking, you do not have to worry about any costs. For all holiday bookings – whether online or in a travel agency – the two-week right of withdrawal applies.

Furthermore, there is the possibility of hoping for the goodwill of the travel provider. Accordingly, it should not be cancelled immediately. If the travel enthusiasts describe their problem by phone or e-mail, the provider ideally offers one of the two options:

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Travel resale: In this case, the trip can be sold to other holidaymakers. In this case, the flight and hotel are passed on to third parties at the booking price. Less often, the prevented travelers have to accept lower prices.

Rebooking: In some cases, the tour operators agree to a rebooking. Fees may apply for these.

If travel providers or guests do not agree to either solution, the only option is cancellation. How expensive it is for the travelers depends largely on the time of the trip cancellation. The type of trip can also affect cancellation fees. The lowest costs are usually incurred for package tours. If you plan your holiday individually, you must find out independently about the amount of cancellation costs for flights and accommodation .

With most low-cost carriers, tickets expire in the event of cancellation and cannot be reused. The situation is similar with more exclusive flight providers, where the cheapest flight class has been booked. The following applies to all trips: The later the cancellation is made, the higher the costs on average.

Beach and shell
If a trip has to be canceled, it is bad enough for the vacationers. They don’t need any additional costs, Image: S_Photo / shutterstock

Cancelling the trip without cancellation fees – when and how does it work?

Normally, travelers cannot avoid cancellation fees if they cancel a trip at short notice. Nevertheless, there are exceptional cases in which the cancellation takes place without incurring costs. The reason for the cancellation of the trip plays a role here. If you don’t feel like going on holiday, you can’t claim this as a good reason for cancellation.

For example, even if there is a short-term hindrance, there are no costs for cancelling the trip if force majeure prevents the holiday. These can include natural disasters. Likewise, the tour operator must accept the cancellation free of charge if he changes his terms and conditions at short notice. This can happen if the price of the holiday suddenly increases or if services included in advance are no longer included in the travel price.

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It should be borne in mind that the cancellation policy is decided on a case-by-case basis. If there are disputes between the guest and the tour operator, a lawyer may have to be consulted. However, if “force majeure” thwarts the vacation plans, the legal situation is clear. A similar situation occurs if:

  • there is an imminent military conflict or war in the destination country,
  • the travel area is closed due to a natural disaster,
  • there is a threat of disease epidemics in the holiday country,
  • domestic political unrest or a civil war make the journey unsafe.

The threat of a terrorist attack is not officially considered “force majeure”. Even after a terrorist attack, it is impossible for many travel providers to cancel the holiday in the affected country free of charge. If there is a concrete terror warning, on the other hand, the tour operators are obliged to inform the holidaymakers about what is happening. German travellers can refer to another case: If the Foreign Office issues an official travel warning for a region or country, the trip there can be cancelled at no cost.


What should be considered when cancelling a trip at short notice?

Regardless of the reasons for cancelling or rebooking the holiday, travellers should contact their tour operator in advance to describe the situation. At best, individual regulations for the problem can be found in conversation. If no agreement is reached, the cancellation of the trip becomes a done deal. In this case, it is important to inform the travel provider again in writing of your own intention. This can be done by letter, fax or e-mail.

A receipt for the written travel cancellation should always be kept. Consequently, it is worthwhile to send letter mail as registered mail. In the event of a dispute, the receipt serves as proof of the announcement of intent to the tour operator. In an emergency, it can be legally asserted.