Consumers could be given new rights when booking holidays as part of a shake-up of the current system by the government.
The Department for Transport (DFT) is set to carry out a consultation into possible changes to consumer protection around holidays later this year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sofia Stayte, head of aviation consumer policy and innovation at the DFT, told the Abta Travel Law Seminar that she “hopes there will be changes in the law” following the consultation.
She added that the consultation would focus on “reinforcing consumer rights” with the aim of making them “more modern and not requiring lengthy legal processes for consumers”.
Some proposals such as “civil sanctions” have already been suggested and Stayte said that these could be enforced by the CAA, as well as other regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
“We will probably consider both new rights and the enforcement of existing rights. They will probably both be part of the consultation,” said Stayte.
Stayte also talked about the new Covid-19 passenger charter, which was unveiled on Monday (17 May) with the aim of “building confidence” among consumers.
“It’s to help consumers to navigate what they need to know while booking, before travel, while travelling and on their return,” she added.
“What happens if restrictions change? They might not have the right to a refund but have a reasonable expectation to be able to change their plans.”
Paula Macfarlane, senior solicitor at Abta, said of the charter: “We’re happy it doesn’t bring in any new obligations and has practical pointers for consumers.
“It’s quite balanced. Consumers are being told: you have responsibility to keep yourself informed.
“The right to refund has not been overstated. If a country is on the amber list and there’s no FCDO advice against travel, then the holiday can go ahead and there’s no right to refund. That’s very helpful.”