Travel Agents and Tour Operators



Don't wear a scarf if you are hot air ballooning

The High Court of Australia has ruled that scarfs should not be worn if you are hot air ballooning.

The ruling came out of a fatal accident on 13 July 2013, when a passenger was boarding a hot air balloon at a location near Alice Springs for a flight at sunrise.

Passengers had been advised to wear beanies, scarfs and gloves, because it could be chilly at that time of day. Ms Bernoth wore a long scarf, wrapped twice around her neck, tied loosely at the front.

The fan to inflate the balloon had started, and three passengers had boarded the basket. As Ms Bernoth approached the basket, she passed by the inflation fan. The long lightweight tassels on her scarf were sucked into the inflation fan, causing her to be dragged towards the metal guard around the fan. The scarf was pulled tightly around her neck as it became entangled in the fan. She later died from the injuries sustained.

The photo shows the actual balloon as it started to inflate. Note how closely the fan is positioned to the basket.

Why was the High Court involved? The issue the High Court had to decide was whether WHS (Work Health and Safety) law applied. It decided it did, exposing the balloon operator to a fine of up to $1,500,000. This is in addition to its civil liability to compensate Ms Bernoth's estate for her death.

The moral is - don't wear a scarf on a hot air balloon because it puts the passenger at risk of injury or death and the operator at risk of a large fine.

For more details click WHS Law exposes aircraft operators to substantial penalties for safety breaches

How to start a tour business in Australia
Seven legal essentials

There’s a world of opportunity for you to organise safaris in Africa, treks in Nepal, meditation and yoga retreats in Bali and in India; and in Australia, tours of the outback and National Parks, bicycle and motor bike tours on the east coast.

Are you thinking about setting up as a tour operator or starting a tour business in Australia?

Make sure of the seven legal essentials:

#1 Business Structure
#2 Licences
#3 Business Insurance and Travel Insurance
#4 Passports and Visas
#5 Booking Forms and Terms and Conditions
#6 Consumer Law Compliance
#7 Business Name Protection

These are the seven legal essentials, as I explain in this 10 minute video:

For an edited transcript click here

Four legal essentials for Tour Operators when organising tours, as I explain in this 2 minute video:

#1 Get your product quality right for your clients
#2 Hire a good lawyer for your ground operator and booking contracts
#3 Take care with supplier contracts
#4 Insurance – professional indemnity & travel insurance


Fare refunds for flight delays and cancellations are now easier in Australia

It's frustrating to be waiting at an airport and watching your flight being delayed on the Flight Directory. It's even worse if it's late at night and the flight is cancelled because it cannot take off before the curfew.

The airline will offer refreshments, meals and accommodation for overnight delays. But what if you don’t want to take the flight anymore?

When it comes to giving a fare refund for flight delays and cancellations, airlines have been very reluctant:

Jetstar policy was that its 'Economy Starter' fares and 'Plus Bundle' fares were non-refundable unless the passenger purchased a flight bundle at additional cost.

Qantas policy was that refunds were not available for its 'Red e-deal' fares.

Tigerair policy was that a "refund admin fee" was payable for a refund, and the refund was only available as a fare credit valid for 6 months only.

Virgin Australia policy was that refunds were not available for its 'Domestic Getaway' and International Short-Haul fares, and the refund was only available as a fare credit valid for 12 months only.

The consumer regulator, the ACCC, has used its threat of legal action for breach of the consumer guarantee that services must be supplied within a reasonable time to have these four airlines agree to offer fare refunds to any passenger who requested one over the past 2 years and in the future.

In addition, it proposes to fine Jetstar $1.95 million because its policy to offer refunds only if a more expensive fare was purchased was far worse than the refund policies of the other airlines.

The result is by no means perfect. Often a passenger has to pay more to another airline for a fare if the flight is cancelled and they may lose their connections. These extra costs are not compensated. Nor is there any fixed compensation available as there is in Europe where up to E600 is payable for a flight delay or cancellation (as an alternative to a fare refund).

For more information click on my briefing note At last, a new regime for refunds for flight delays and cancellations in Australia


If a travel agent books an international flight, are they legally liable if they fail to advise the visa requirements for the flight destination?

There are some travel professionals who still think that they can book an international flight, and leave it to the customer to look after the visa requirements. They do this even though as travel professionals, they know that without a valid visa the customer will be denied boarding on the flight they have booked.

For more details click here

Is lunch included in my all-inclusive tour price?

The words All-inclusive are a powerful marketing tool which is used by many tour operators, accommodation providers and cruise lines.

So what does a traveller think when they read this in a brochure which is labelled All-Inclusive : WHAT'S INCLUDED? Coach travel throughout ... Six nights dinner, bed and continental breakfast at the Hotel ...

Is lunch included?

According to a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority, the traveller was entitled to expect that lunch was included because that was the overall impression given by the description.

The lesson is that to avoid giving a misleading impression, if lunch is not included then it needs to be specifically stated - Lunch is not included. If nothing is mentioned about lunch then it is misleading to not include lunch.

For more details click here

Has another business started using your name? What can/must you do to stop them?
Sydney Medical Services has provided after-hours doctors for home visits since 1971 in the Sydney Metropolitan region. Last year. it had 76,885 home visits. Imagine its surprise when early this year it noticed brochures advertising Sydney Medical Services 2020 for after-hours doctors.

For more details click here

There’s no longer any Travel Agents Licensing in Australia
The sun set upon travel agents licensing in Australia on 30 June 2014.

For more details click here

Visas and passports can be costly!
Agents who overlook visa requirements....will find themselves footing the bill for their clients’ alternative travel, accommodation and meals

For more details click here

Just how suitable is that tour?
How far should a travel agent go to in recommending holiday arrangements?

For more details click here

It pays to double check availability!
Just because the brochure says a ski resort is open on a certain date, doesn’t mean that it will be...

For more details click here

US Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Enables nationals of 36 countries including Australia to travel to the United States ... without obtaining a visa stamp...

For more details click here

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