Cancellation of a trip on your initiative

Cancellation of a trip on your initiative

Health problem, family concern, professional imperative… Whatever the reason, you can decide to cancel your organized trip at any time. But you should know that the closer the departure date, the heavier the penalties to be paid.

When it comes to organized trips, changing your mind can be expensive! If you can no longer or no longer want to leave, you must pay the travel agency the penalties provided for in your contract.

Trip cancellation: don’t wait to notify your agency

To set the number of penalties, travel agencies generally refer to the date on which they are notified of your withdrawal. If you decide not to leave, notify your agency as soon as possible!

The safest thing is to inform him by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt. Some agencies provide in their general conditions of sale the possibility of proceeding by email or fax, but in any case, do not notify by telephone to have a written record.

The number of cancellation penalties

In the event of cancellation on your initiative, and unless there is a serious impediment provided for in the contract, you will lose the sums paid and will have to pay compensation. The vast majority of contracts offered by travel agencies provide for penalties in progressive amounts, which correspond to a percentage of the price of the stay. The closer the departure date, the more this percentage increases! Example: 30% penalties for a cancellation more than one month before departure, then respectively 50%, 75%, and 100% of the price of the trip for a cancellation three, two, or one week before departure.

The applicable scale is free, so it may vary from one agency to another. It is up to you to check these provisions before signing your contract (refer to the “Cancellation” clause).

Good to know. These penalties are due regardless of the seriousness of your reason, except in the event of cancellation linked to a proven danger in the country of destination. However, if it is a risk covered by the cancellation insurance you have taken out (hospitalization, for example), now is the time to call on this guarantee.

In case of cancellation for security reasons

Acts of terrorism, earthquake, nuclear accident… An event that has occurred in your country of destination worries you, and you decide not to leave? If everything proves that this danger is very real, and in particular if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dissuades tourists from traveling to this country, you can invoke force majeure to cancel your trip. In this case, the agency must reimburse you the sums advanced and cannot demand penalties.

But, in general, faced with a dangerous situation, the agency takes the lead in canceling the trip. Indeed, she is bound by a safety obligation (art. 221-1 of the Consumer Code) and could be prosecuted for endangering the life of others (art. 223-1 of the Criminal Code) if she maintained a trip despite the recommendations of the ministry.

Good to know: if the agency considers that your fears are unfounded on the date you express them, it will claim the penalty provided for in your contract in the event of withdrawal. If, in the end, the risk has materialized (trip canceled following the sudden deterioration of the situation in the country of destination), you are entitled to plead your good intuition and claim full reimbursement of the sums paid. On the other hand, if the trip goes smoothly, the agency was right: in this case, you have no recourse.

Some payment cards such as Visa Premier allow you to benefit from travel cancellation insurance guarantees, but all or part of the trip (plane tickets, train, hotel, rental car) must be paid for with your card. If for personal reasons (illness, accident, etc.) or eligible professional reasons you have to cancel or modify your trip, you can benefit from the compensation of up to €5,000 per year. Check with your bank.

To avoid penalties, you can give up your trip

To avoid having to pay cancellation penalties, you can let someone else (friend, relative, etc.) enjoy your trip. The agency cannot oppose it if the following conditions are met (art. R.211-7 of the Tourism Code):

– you must notify the agency, by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, no later than 7 days before the start of the trip (15 days if it is a cruise).

– the person replacing you must meet and accept the same conditions as you: departure and return dates, etc.

Warning! When you transfer your travel contract, you remain jointly and severally liable vis‐à‐vis the agency for the payment of the balance of the price and any additional costs incurred by this operation. If the person chosen to replace you does not pay what he owes to the agency, the latter is entitled to return to you. It is, therefore, better to give up your trip to someone you trust!