- Why is it the case that the same sort of ticket is sold by different travel agents at different prices?
Air tickets are generally offered to travel agents at discounted prices of the published fares. Since the discounts given to different agents may differ and the airlines do not dictate the selling prices of the tickets, the prices of the same sort of ticket may not be the same even for the same flight. Travellers are therefore advised to compare the prices quoted by different agents.
- After paying all the fare of a package tour, I was told by my travel agent to pay other charges such as the fuel charge. Do I have to pay those charges?
Take the fuel charge as an example. If your agent is notified, without advance notice, by the airlines to collect a fuel charge, that is beyond its control and so you have to pay the charge to your agent. You cannot use that as an excuse to withdraw from the tour.
- After signing up for a package tour, is it possible to withdraw from it or switch to another tour?
If it is for personal reasons that you wish to withdraw from a tour or switch to another one, your travel agent will normally charge you a service fee or even forfeit your tour fare in accordance with its stipulated provisions. However, it is also possible that your agent may adopt a different approach because of your special situation. If you have taken out travel insurance, you may claim your loss from the insurance company according to the cover of your policy.
If your travel agent cancels a package tour prior to departure for reasons beyond its control, you may request it to handle your case according to the TIC's rules.
- Is it the case that package tours are accompanied by tour escorts only when the number of tour members has reached a certain threshold?
The decisions made by travel agents as to how many people will form a package tour and whether a tour will be accompanied by a tour escort are based on the costs of the tour. In general, travellers cannot withdraw from a tour on the grounds that the tour is not accompanied by a tour escort.
- Should travel agents be held responsible if travellers cannot depart as scheduled because of their visa or travel document?
Unless the travellers have asked their travel agent to apply for a visa on their behalf, it is not the responsibility of the travel agent to check their travel document. However, if the travellers have clearly mentioned the kind of travel document they use when signing up for a package tour and it can be verified that staff members of the agent have provided incorrect information, then the agent should be responsible.
- How long should travel agents refund the tour fare to travellers if a package tour has been cancelled not for reasons beyond their control?
According to TIC rules, if a package tour is cancelled by the travel agent before departure, all the money received by the agent must be refunded to the travellers within three working days. If the tour fare is paid by credit card, the travel agents must make refund applications to banks for credit card payments of tour fares within three working days.
- Should travel agents be held responsible if the star rating of hotels is different from that mentioned in the tour brochure?
At present, there is no internationally accepted standard of hotels' star rating. In general, the star rating assigned by local tourism authorities is taken as the official rating. If the star rating of hotels as promised in the tour brochure or receipt differs from the actual rating, the travel agent should be held responsible.
- I have joined a one-day trip which assembles and dismisses in Shenzhen, China. Why did my travel agent not frank the tour receipt?
The requirements in relation to the levy as stipulated in the Travel Agents Ordinance, put simply, are that travel agents are liable to pay the levy in respect of every outbound fare received for providing a combination of any two or all of the following services or arrangements: (a) transport from Hong Kong to any other places; (b) accommodation at any places outside Hong Kong; (c) activities at any places outside Hong Kong. According to the requirements, travel agents need not pay the levy for travel products which are merely a single item of the above (a), (b) or (c), and such travel products are not covered by the Travel Industry Compensation Fund and the Package Tour Accident Contingency Fund Scheme. Since the one-day trip you have joined only consists of item (c), your travel agent does not need to frank the receipt.