Travel agents, operators and airlines

When it comes to planning that special holiday, most travel agents, airlines and cruise companies provide an excellent service but, as with any significant purchase, it always pays to do your own research first.

This page includes information on:

"Did you know? In Australia, travel agents do not need a licence, but they still have to comply with the requirements of Australian Consumer Law."

Your consumer rights

Australian Consumer Law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services.

In fact, most products and services purchased after 1 January 2011 come with an automatic consumer guarantee that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. This includes travel services.

Acceptable quality

When you engage a business to provide goods or services, you have the right to expect ‘acceptable quality’. Services must be:

  • provided with due care or skill (taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage)
  • fit for any specified purpose (express or implied)
  • provided in a reasonable time (when no time is set).

What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the service, the difficulty of the task and other relevant factors.

Proof of purchase and documentation

You have the right to receive proof of purchase (like an invoice, cash register receipt, handwritten receipt or lay-by agreement). Suppliers must provide proof of purchase for goods and services worth $75 or more (excluding GST).

Legal and conveyancing services in Australia are usually supplied under a contract. A written copy of the contract (including its terms and conditions) must be supplied to you. Keep this for your records and in case you need to refer to the contract terms during a dispute.

Australian Consumer Law allows consumers to claim compensation (reimbursement) when a service does not meet a guarantee. You may be able to claim compensation for your costs (time and money) if something goes wrong with the service. For more information, refer to our contracts page.

Advertising

Advertising can be a powerful means of persuasion, so it’s important it is truthful, accurate and easy to understand. Australian Consumer Law protects consumers from deceptive advertising claims and conduct.

Businesses are not allowed to make false or misleading representations about their products or services. This includes advertising for travel services.

Learn more about advertising standards.

Remedy when things go wrong

You are entitled to an appropriate remedy from the business when the product or service you purchased does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.

This might be a refund, a further service to rectify the problem and in some cases, reimbursement for damages and consequential loss.

The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is:

Minor

If the problem is minor and can be fixed, the business can choose how to fix the problem. You cannot cancel and demand a refund immediately. Instead, you must give the business an opportunity to fix the problem. However, if repairs take too long, you can get someone else to fix the problem and ask the business to pay reasonable costs or cancel the service and get a refund.

If the problem is major or cannot be fixed, you can choose to:

  • terminate the contract for services and request a full refund
  • seek reimbursement for the difference between the value of the services provided compared to the price paid.

For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.

Major

A problem is considered ‘major’ when it:

  • would have stopped someone from purchasing the service had they known about it
  • is substantially unfit for purpose and can’t be fixed in a reasonable timeframe
  • creates an unsafe situation
  • doesn't meet the specific purpose or achieve the specific result that the consumer requested.

For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.

Have a problem?

In Australia

  1. Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. If the matter is complicated and not urgent, you could write an email or letter. We have tips and sample letters to help you.
  2. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, you should contact the industry body, advocate or ombudsman for dispute resolution, for example, the Australian Federation of Travel Agents or Airline Customer Advocate.
  3. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, you can contact us for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.

Learn about our complaint handling process or view our complaints register.

Overseas

  1. Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. If the matter is complicated and not urgent, you could write an email or letter. We have tips and sample letters to help you.
  2. If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, contact the consumer protection body in the country where the trader is located and ask for help.
  3. If the matter is still unresolved, you can make a complaint through www.econsumer.gov. Econsumer.gov is an initiative of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network and is a partnership of more than 35 consumer protection agencies around the world.

Be a savvy consumer

"Did you know? If an airline doesn’t allow you to board because they overbooked, you should insist on being provided with meals and accommodation until their airline arranges a seat for you on the next available flight."

Visit Smartraveller before you book

Smartraveller is a travel advice website run by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). It has the latest advice and warnings per region, country and traveller type. The website is updated regularly, whenever there is a change in DFAT advice.

If you use a travel agent

If you want to book your travel through a travel agent, you should check the agent’s credentials. Are they a member of a recognised industry association? Do they have any industry-specific qualifications or training? Do they have insolvency insurance covering supplier and travel agent collapse?

Get travel insurance

If something unexpected happens before or during your trip, travel insurance can cover the loss of the deposit or cancellation fees, medical expenses, personal liability, loss or theft of baggage and travel documents. For more information, see our insurance page.

Confirm your travel details

Before you go, make sure you confirm all the details including the exact location and time of departure, any extra charges, passport and visa requirements, as well as vaccination and health regulations.

Payment and cancellation

Before paying for any part of your trip, check whether it is refundable in case you need to cancel. You should also check if there is a cancellation fee.

Further information

Contact us

Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.

Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?

The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.

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