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CDSC found that a travel agency must make a compensation for a loss in case the travel agency does not notify the terms and conditions for flight ticket cancellation fee exemptions 2019-07-25

CDSC found that a travel agency must make a compensation for a loss in case the travel agency does not notify the terms and conditions for flight ticket cancellation fee exemptions

 

    As more and more people travel abroad, quite many consumer disputes related to flight ticket cancellation fees are occurring, especially in cases where consumers cancel their flight tickets due to medical problems requiring unplanned surgery or hospitalization after purchasing the tickets through travel agencies.

 

    With regard to a case where a consumer claimed compensation for the cancellation fee which the consumer had already paid when cancelling his/her flight ticket due to a disease, the Consumer Dispute Settlement Commission (CDSC) (Chairperson Shin Jong-won) of the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) made a resolution that the travel agency which had sold the ticket in question should compensate the consumer for the amount equivalent to the cancellation fee if it had not notified the consumer of the airline’s terms and conditions for flight ticket cancellation fee exemptions in advance.

 

    According to the Criteria for Protection of Users of Air Transportation of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Notification No. 2017-1035), in case a travel agency sells flight tickets on the Internet, it shall notify the conditions for cost exemptions to a user of air transportation before the completion of a contract.

 

 

Case Summary

 

 

       In March, 2018, A purchased a round-trip flight ticket of Airline C from Travel Agency B’s website, and a month later, A asked Travel Agency B to cancel the purchase because A got a disease requiring surgery, and the travel agency imposed a cancellation fee of 330,000 KRW on A.

    Later on, A found out that according to Airline C’s terms and conditions, in case a passenger is unable to fly due to a disease, the passenger may extend the period for which a flight ticket is valid till the time he/she can travel, and information regarding refund policies can be provided by a customer service representative.

    A customer service representative of Airline C said, “a passenger who cancels his/her ticket due to a disease would be eligible for a cancellation fee exemption, but A’s ticket cancellation fee cannot be refunded because A has already paid a ticket cancellation fee.” So A asked Travel Agency B to refund the ticket cancellation fee, but the Agency refused A’s refund request.

 

    With regard to the above case, the travel agency in question argued, “It is difficult to notify airlines’terms and conditions for flight ticket cancellation fee exemptions in detail to consumers at the time of selling tickets because the terms and conditions may vary depending on airlines.” However, the CDSC argued that the travel agency should notify consumers of the conditions for cancellation fee exemptions before the contract conclusion, because the conditions regarding cancellation fee exemptions would be an important element of the contract.

 

    The decision by the CDSC is of great significance in that it has spoken for consumers’ rights and interests by putting the brakes on the practices of travel agencies for not providing consumers with information about conditions for flight ticket cancellation fee exemptions properly.

 

    The CDSC said, “Going forward, it will continue to pay attention to travellers’ rights and interests and strive to protect them in line with a constant increase in the number of flight travellers.”

 

    Inaddition, the CDSC advised consumers to pay attention to the cancellation fee policies of airlines and carefully check them when purchasing flight tickets or canceling flight tickets due to diseases.

 

 ※ According to Article 60 of the Framework Act on Consumers, the CDSC is set up and operated within the KCA to resolve disputes between consumers and business operators, and if the parties to a dispute accept the mediation outcome produced by the CDSC, and thus a settlement is reached through the mediation, the settlement is as equally binding as a judicial reconciliation.

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