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Bridge the World caught out under new package regulations

Bridge the World has apologised and offered a full refund to a couple whose holiday collapsed due to a delayed Air India flight, costing them £2,900.

The tailor-made specialist agency, which is part of STA Travel, initially refused to help the couple claiming the holiday did not constitute a package holiday and therefore it was not responsible for the damage caused by the failure of any of its suppliers.

It said all the products booked were separate and each had their own prices and terms and conditions, so not a package booking.

However, today, Bridge the World said it had “carefully investigated” the booking and it was sold as a package.

The Independent this week reported Kenny and Nicolette Gower booked a holiday in Kerala, southern India, through the Leeds-based agent with outbound flights and the main itinerary went as planned.

However, the Air India domestic flight back from Cochin to Mumbai was delayed by a failure of Air India’s IT network. Consequently, the couple missed their BA flight to London.

The flights had been booked separately so the airlines were not liable for finding replacement flights. As a result a family member paid for tickets on Air France to Paris, costing £2,300.

Package Travel Regulations state transport and accommodation, sold at an inclusive price, is a package and a travel company providing a package is responsible for the damage caused by any failure by its suppliers, such as a delayed flight.

A spokeswoman from the company said: “Bridge the World has carefully investigated the situation involving the Gowers and the issues they experienced on their return from Kerala.

“As a result of this investigation, Bridge the World will be offering the Gowers a full refund for the alternative flights purchased and sincerely apologises for any inconvenience and upset caused.

“This is an extremely rare situation and one that had to be carefully scrutinised.  After reviewing all the details, Bridge the World can confirm that the holiday sold was a package, not individually sold as a tour and flights as previously thought.

“Prior to the new Package Travel Regulations in 2018, if a company sold products separately and each had their own prices and terms and conditions, it would not constitute a package holiday. The type of holiday booked by the Gowers would under normal circumstances (prior to the PTR) have been sold separately, however the investigation has shown that the Gowers were sold their holiday as a package and the resulting invoice did show the total costs as one price, rather than separate prices as would have normally have been the case.

“As a matter of urgency, Bridge the World is contacting the Gowers to apologise and offer a full refund for the additional tickets and costs incurred.  This is not a situation that can be repeated; post PTR, if a flight and a tour are sold, this will automatically qualify as a package holiday and the company will of course adhere to the resulting regulations.”

More: Package Travel and Atol Regulations released

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