The outbreak of a pandemic may entitle package holidaymakers to cancel their trip free of charge. Whether you have to pay cancellation fees to the organizer depends on the individual case. This results from the decision of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on three corona cases, which the judges in Karlsruhe announced on Tuesday.

By law, the customer only gets a full refund if “extraordinary circumstances” “significantly affect” the trip. In the case of an over 80-year-old with a susceptibility to pneumonia, for whom a river cruise had become too risky, the BGH saw these conditions as met.

The competent district court rightly took into account age and previous illnesses, because these circumstances suddenly played a special role in Corona. The assumption that the risk of infection on a ship with 100 passengers was significantly higher than at home despite the hygiene concept is therefore also unobjectionable.

The judges suspended a second procedure to await a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in another case. Here the canceled Baltic Sea cruise was later completely canceled. The ECJ is to decide whether such a subsequent development should be taken into account.

The third case – this is about a Mallorca package tour – has to be heard again at the Court of Appeal. The fact that the booked hotel was closed is not sufficient for the BGH as the sole reason for waiving the cancellation fees. Now it has to be clarified whether another accommodation would have been reasonable and what the Corona situation was like overall.

All three trips were booked in early 2020 before the outbreak of the pandemic in Europe and were scheduled to take place in summer 2020.