The coronavirus – international travel
You are always entitled to get a refund if your trip is cancelled. Make sure to note that it might take some extra time before you get your money because of the special circumstances that we are in right now.
Here you will find answers to some of the most common questions about travel and the coronavirus. For more information and answers to your questions visit the questions forum on Hallå Konsument.
What are you entitled to when a trip is cancelled?
If you have booked a package trip you are protected by the Package Travel Act. You have the right to receive your money back within 14 days. This applies for package tours with plane, train, boat or bus.
You are not protected by the Package Travel Act if you have only purchased an air ticket. But you have the right to a refund if your trip is cancelled by the travel company. You should receive your money within seven days.
You can choose to rebook your trip for another time if the tour operator can provide that opportunity. This includes both package trips and regular air tickets.
Is the airline or travel agent accountable for your flight?
It is the responsibility of the airline in charge of the trip to refund the air tickets. In many cases the consumer is pushed back and forth between the airline company and travel agent, but remember that it is the airline company that is responsible for the refund. Contact the airline company with your demands when a flight has been cancelled. This even applies when you have purchased your air ticket from a travel agent.
If you have been in contact with a travel agent they also serve as a counterpart of The National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN).
Cancelled trips with train, boat or bus
If your trip with train, boat, or bus to another country has been cancelled you are entitled to get a refund for your paid ticket.
Vouchers can be useless if company goes bankrupt
Some companies offer their customers different kind of vouchers instead of a refund when a trip has been cancelled. Such an offer is okay. However, you are entitled to a refund should you make such a demand.
Observe that if a voucher is valid for a package trip it is not covered by the travel guarantee. This means that your voucher might be useless if the travel operator goes bankrupt.
You are covered by the travel guarantee if you have already purchased your package trip with a voucher at the start and the trip is cancelled because of the company’s insolvency, meaning they cannot pay off their debts, or if they go bankrupt. If the trip is cancelled because of some other reason and the company later goes bankrupt and cannot offer you a refund, then the travel guarantee is not valid.
If the company does not refund my money
If the company does not respond to your claims, you can try to contact your bank and ask for a chargeback on your bank card. It means that the bank helps you to get a refund of the money you paid for the trip. You have a stronger protection if you have paid with a credit card than an ordinary bank card.
If the company does not refund your money even after they have agreed to do it, you can contact the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden) and apply for a payment injunction.
If you cannot come to an agreement
If you and the tour operator cannot reach an agreement you can proceed by filing a complaint with the National Board for Consumer Disputes (Allmänna reklamationsnämnden, ARN), which will examine the matter. Having your case examined by ARN is free of cost. Be aware that ARN does not examine cases where a refund takes a long time.
As a consumer you have the right to cancel a package trip and demand a full refund if there are circumstances that are extremely unusual or unavoidable at the destination at the time of departure. You can examine if there are any extraordinary circumstances like any spread off infection at the destination or if the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet, UD) has advised against travel. UD has currently advised against travel to multiple countries.
To exercise your rights to cancel the trip and get a full refund you need to prove that extraordinary circumstances exist. Among some of the ways of showing proof is to provide statements made by state agencies or articles in the media.
If you want to cancel your trip it is important that you clearly explain what are the circumstances that make you want to cancel and get a refund.
This means that you are required to refer to for example that there is a spread of an infectious disease at the destination, that the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (UD) advices against travelling to the destination. Or it could also be that the destination is affected by such extensive restrictions that you will be unable to travel there.
If you have purchased a non-refundable air ticket the airline is not obliged to give you a refund if you cancel your trip because of the pandemic.
Many airlines still offer you the opportunity to rebook your trip or a voucher. Contact your airline and ask if they can offer you a possible solution.
There is no legislation that regulates your rights if you want to cancel a regular flight. The Swedish Board of General Complaints (ARN) examined the matter. They have concluded that your right to a refund does not apply if you have a non-refundable ticket.
More information about the coronavirus
If you have general questions about the coronavirus you can call the Swedish national information line on 113 13. The information provided by the operators at 113 13 is verified by the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) or by other responsible authorities.
You can find information from several authorities about the spread of the coronavirus on the website krisinformation.se.
- Proofread 3 July 2020