Recommendation of the European Commission no. 648/2020 regarding the vouchers for passengers and travellers in lieu of reimbursement of the travel packages and transport services cancelled in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
The European Commission issued the recommendation with regard to the vouchers that carriers or organizers may offer to passengers or travellers instead of cash reimbursements and subject to their voluntary acceptance, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thus, the Commission made the recommendations applicable to the following situations:
- In case of cancellation by the carrier or organizer, from 1 March 2020, for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- In case of modification or termination of the contract, from 1 March 2020, for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic
In order to help make the vouchers an attractive and reliable alternative to cash reimbursements, vouchers should have effective and sound protection against the insolvency of the carrier or organizer.
The Commission recommends that vouchers have the following characteristics:
- Vouchers should have a minimum validity period of 12 months.
Carriers and organizers should automatically reimburse the passenger or traveller the amount of the voucher, within 14 days from the end of the validity period, in case the voucher has not been used, or the partial refund, if the voucher has been partially used.
- If the vouchers have a validity period of more than 12 months, passengers and travellers should have the right to request a refund within 12 months from the issuance of the voucher. They should have the same rights at any time thereafter, subject to the applicable legal provisions on the time limit of validity.
- Carriers and organizers may consider reimbursing the vouchers at a time prior to 12 months after the voucher is issued if the passenger or traveller so requests.
- Passengers and travellers should be able to use the vouchers for payments related to all new bookings made before the expiry date of the vouchers, even if payment or service takes place after that date.
- Passengers and travellers should be able to use the vouchers to pay for any transport services or touristic packages offered by the carrier or organizer.
- Depending on availability and whatever the fare or price difference,
- carriers should ensure that the vouchers allow passengers to travel on the same route and under the same conditions of service as detailed in the initial booking;
- organizers should ensure that the vouchers allow passengers to book a contract for a package of travel services at a level type or quality equivalent to that of the terminated package.
- Carriers and organizers should consider extending the possibility to use the vouchers for the bookings made at other entities belonging to the same group of companies.
- If the cancelled transport service or package of travel services has been booked through a travel agency or another intermediary, carriers and organizers should allow the use of vouchers for new bookings, also, through the same travel agency or intermediary.
- Vouchers for transport services should be transferable to another passenger at no additional cost.
Vouchers for a package of travel services should also be transferable to another traveller at no additional cost if the providers of the services included in the package agree to the respective transfer at no additional cost.
- Organizers and carriers may consider issuing vouchers with a value higher than the value of payments made for the package of travel services or for the transport service originally booked, for example through an additional lump sum or additional services.
Vouchers should specify their validity period and all related rights. They should be issued on a durable means, such as e-mail or paper.