In the line of duty
In the leisure travel sector, the concept of duty of care is just taking off, and can be misunderstood,” says James Page, senior vice president and chief administrative officer of AIG Travel. “It’s less about travel companies reacting to disaster situations – a role that’s arguably best filled by travel insurance – and more about educating consumers on the risk of these events impacting their travels.”
Page speaks from the perspective of the US. Within the European Union (EU), consumers have been protected to some extent since 1992 by legislation [known in the UK as the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations] that makes tour operators responsible for every element of a holiday bought as one package, including flights, accommodation, ground transportation and more. EU travellers who buy their travel and accommodation separately, though, do not automatically benefit from such blanket cover.
“There is a massively significant difference between flight-only clients and package holiday clients in terms of duty of care, even if they are flying with the same airline and that airline is owned by a tour operator,” says Sean Tipton, spokesperson for the British travel association ABTA.
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