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Corona travel warnings for many countries: what this means for travelers

When should I cancel?

It is not legally clarified exactly when an unavoidable, extraordinary circumstance (formerly: "force majeure") must exist that enables a free cancellation. It probably depends on the probability with which it could be assumed at the time of the cancellation and whether the unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances exist at the time of the trip.

If you cancel early, you run the risk of not falling under the protection described and of having to pay the contractually agreed cancellation costs. We therefore advise you to look carefully at the advantages and disadvantages of early cancellation:

  1. Whoever wants to travel, if at all possible, can wait and see In case of doubt, however, only learns at short notice whether the trip is actually taking place.
  2. If you no longer want to travel and wait with a cancellation, you run the risk of yourself increase the cancellation feesif at the time of travel there are no longer any unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances that entitle the person to withdraw from the contract free of charge. In addition, in many cases a final payment is due shortly before the start of the trip, which you would have to claim back in whole or in part, depending on the situation at the time of travel.

Those who cancel early with reference to the coronavirus or who have already canceled should, in our opinion, receive cancellation fees back if a travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office is still in effect at the time of travel and / or there are other indications of an inevitable, extraordinary circumstance. However, it is not said that your tour operator agrees. This can lead to arguments about it.

I have not booked a package tour: What rights do individual travelers have?

With the closure of the borders, individual travelers also have a better handle who otherwise have no legal instrument due to unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances and who regularly end up with damage themselves if they cancel or break off the trip as a result.

In our opinion, if you cannot use the individually booked accommodation due to entry restrictions, for example, you do not have to pay for it. There is much to suggest that this also applies if the accommodation is not accessible or should not be used for tourism.

Danger: Basis is German law. Something different may apply if you have booked accommodation directly with the owner abroad and the law there applies. This is the case, for example, if you have booked directly with the Dutch operator of a holiday park in Holland.

The same applies to air travel that you cannot take due to entry or exit restrictions. If the flights are canceled by the airlines, you have the choice between reimbursement of the price of the flight if you no longer want to take the flight, or a replacement flight at a later date (which must not cost you anything extra).

Even if the airline operates the flight despite the travel restrictions, in our opinion the flight price must be reimbursed if you are subject to an entry ban.

Whether you are entitled to additional compensation payments in accordance with the Passenger Rights Ordinance when a flight is canceled depends on whether the airline itself can invoke unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances. Entry bans, for example as a reason for cancellation, can exempt the airlines from the obligation to make compensation payments. However, the airline must provide support services, flight price reimbursement or replacement flights and support services (e.g. meals or hotel rooms) without the possibility of relief even in exceptional circumstances. These claims of the passenger therefore remain in place even in times of Corona. You can use our free flight annoyance app to submit an application to the airline quickly and easily.

What should I do if the remaining payments are still outstanding?

Many travelers who booked their trips before the corona pandemic and whose trips are not due for a few weeks or months ask whether they should make a final payment in view of the corona virus and a possible risk of bankruptcy. This is an important question if you cannot cancel free of charge (see above) or if you want to stick to the travel plans themselves for as long as possible.

In our opinion, you do not need to pay the remaining price that will be due these days for an upcoming package tour or individually booked accommodation in Germany. The background to this is that it is still unclear whether trips in the next few weeks can be carried out as agreed or whether accommodation can be reached and used for a vacation. The travel warnings from the Federal Foreign Office and entry restrictions in many countries practically exclude travel. It is not foreseeable whether and when these restrictions will no longer apply.

Against this background, tour operators and owners of holiday accommodation have no right to withdraw from the contract, although many reserve the right to do so in the event that the agreed price is not paid or not paid in full on the dates mentioned. The providers are also not allowed to demand any reminder or collection costs or any cancellation fees provided in the event of a withdrawal.

If the provider sees it differently and insists on the payments, but you want to stick to the travel plans for as long as possible, it will unfortunately be more complicated. Then you will not be able to avoid a payment after a reminder by the tour operator in order to avoid a (in our opinion unjustified) cancellation by the organizer.

For trips that are to take place later, and depending on how the situation develops, the answer to the question of payment of the balance may be different. If you fail to pay the amounts due for a trip that is not due to take place until later, you run the risk of paying dunning costs. In addition, the provider can withdraw from the contract and demand compensation - albeit only with a deadline and after a corresponding threat.