Table of Contents

    You Booked Your Flight Directly With the Airline

    If, as a consumer, you organised your own trip and booked your flight directly (online) without the involvement of a travel agent or professional reseller, it will not be easy for you to receive a refund for your plane ticket. In this case, you will not enjoy the legal protection set out in the Law of 21 November 2017 on the sale of package travel, linked travel services and travel services (referred to hereafter as the Package Travel Law). Booking your own flights without other tourism services is not package travel or a travel service within the legal sense of the term. For example, you cannot invoke the Package Travel Law if you only book the flight or your holiday accommodation yourself.

    There are four options. Consider which option offers you the best possibility of recourse.

    • Exchange your booking with an airline in the same group
    • Use the insurance linked to your credit card
    • Use the insurance of the bankrupt airline
    • Register your claim with the bankruptcy receiver

    Exchange Your Booking with an Airline in the Same Group

    Many airlines are part of an international group created as a result of mergers and acquisitions in the sector. If your airline goes bankrupt but is part of an international group like this, another airline in the group may agree to exchange the ticket, but this is not the rule. It may be worth checking this anyway. The other airlines in this group do not generally act as guarantors for this type of debt. If it is possible, that’s a windfall. Please note that you should consider the possibility of additional fees for the exchange.

    Use the Insurance Linked to Your Credit Card

    Your credit card's general terms and conditions sometimes provide for a refund for goods and services not delivered.

    This is not the general rule, but it may still be useful to check whether there is provision for a ticket refund if an airline goes bankrupt.

    More information on a dispute linked to a credit card purchase.

    Use the Insurance of the Bankrupt Airline

    If airlines only sell flight tickets and do not themselves offer package travel or linked travel services, they are not legally obliged to take out insolvency insurance. However, if they also act as a travel agent or travel retailer for package travel or linked travel services within the meaning of the law, they must have this type of insurance.

    If, for example, you only booked the flight, you cannot use insurance to obtain a refund of your plane ticket if the flight cannot take place due to insolvency.

    If the flight is part of package travel organised by the airline, it is subject to insolvency protection.

    Register Your Claim with the Bankruptcy Receiver

    If you cannot find who to contact to receive a refund, your only option is to register your claim with the receiver appointed by the court to liquidate the bankruptcy. This procedure is not always easy, as you first and foremost have to know the name of the receiver.

    How Can You Find the Bankruptcy Receiver?

    For companies registered in Belgium, you can consult the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE). You can search using the number or name of the bankrupt company. You will find the link to the Belgian Official Gazette in which the bankruptcy was published (KBO Public Search). You will also find the contact details of the receiver and the information you need to register your claim. The claim should generally be submitted within one month of the publication of the ruling.

    If the airline was declared bankrupt in a Member State of the European Union, the European Consumer Centre can help you find the contact details of the receiver and assist you with the procedure.

    You Booked the Flight through a Travel Agent or Retailer

    If the flight could not take place due to the bankruptcy of your airline, the travel agency must offer you a real alternative in accordance with the Package Travel Law. This may involve a different departure date, another airline, a different destination or even the full reimbursement of the travel costs.

    If your travel agent or retailer goes bankrupt, you can use the insolvency insurance they are legally obliged to take out. In this case, the insurer will reimburse the deposit or travel price already paid or ensure you can make another journey. You have the right to be repatriated if you have already departed and cannot continue your journey.

    The compulsory insolvency insurance stems from a European regulation that has been transposed into the national law of all European Union (EU) Member States. In other words, if you booked your travel in Belgium or another EU Member State and it falls within the scope of the Package Travel Law, you are protected against the insolvency of your travel agent or retailer. In Belgium, this guarantee is provided through insurance.

    You Booked a Linked Travel Service through the Airline 

    When booking a flight with an airline, it offers you an additional travel service, such as accommodation or a hire car. If you book this additional travel service within 24 hours of booking your airline ticket, it is a linked travel service. In this case, the airline must have insolvency insurance. If the airline goes bankrupt, your flight and everything paid to the airline must be refunded through this insurance.

    Do You Want to Know More about Your Rights as a Traveller?

    Your legal rights when booking package travel or a linked travel service.

    Legal insolvency insurance of your travel agent or retailer.

    General information on your legal rights as a passenger in the event of the cancellation or delay of your flight, overbooking, or the loss or damage of your luggage.

    You will find detailed information and information on your rights in the context of other forms of passenger transport on the FPS Mobility website:

    Last update
    21 October 2022