Financial protection for travel
If you’ve been looking forward to your holiday or travels for months, it’s hugely upsetting and worrying to hear that your travel provider is no longer trading. There are a number of ways in which you can recover your money – and some people may find that their holiday bookings are actually still covered.
Firstly, if you booked your holiday through a reputable company, you should find that they are part of an approved body which will give you some financial security. Find out if the company holds all or any of the following:
An Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL)
Membership with an approved body such as The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA); the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT); the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO); Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH); or the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO)
A suitable insurance policy
Consumer pre-payments in a trust account such as a Travel Trust Association account.
If the company holds membership within any of the above, you should be able to claim back the cost of your holiday. It’s worth checking when you book a holiday whether the travel agency does have measures in place in case of financial failure – otherwise, it’s advisable to take out comprehensive travel insurance.
ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) protects the customers of member travel agencies for flights and air holidays. The scheme is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority and most travel agencies are members. ATOL is the only scheme in theUK which manages flights and air holidays – if you’re flying abroad, you should ensure that whoever you book your tickets through is an ATOL member.
If your travel agency goes out of business while you are on holiday, ATOL will step in and cover the cost of finding new flights home. ATOL also refunds any customers who have yet to take their holiday.
You must receive an ATOL receipt – which will contain the name and ATOL number of the company – from the travel agent when you pay any money – including a deposit. Do not lose this information!
You will not be ATOL protected if you:
Only buy a scheduled flight and receive a ticket within 24 hours of payment
Book direct with an airline.
ABTA represent over 5,000 travel agencies and 900 tour operators in theUK. They create a set of guidelines (the Code of Conduct) which should be used by members to give the public a good experience of the company. ABTA membership suggests the company is reputable, respected and trustworthy.
If a member of ABTA should experience financial failure, your money may be protected – but not all travel itineraries are, so check with your agency when booking – you may need additional insurance. To take full advantage of the protection available under any financial protection scheme or the ABTA Code of Conduct, it’s important that you have the correct documentation when making your booking. See the financial protection page of ABTA’s website.
AITO is an association which is only open to tour operators – currently, around 140 specialist tour operators are members. Each member must adhere to a Code of Business Practise and a code of conduct called the Quality Charter.
AITO gives customers 100% financial protection – it means all holidays, including accommodation only – are covered in the event that the tour operator collapses, through a number of schemes. This means that if you have paid any money towards a holiday, you should have it refunded – and if you’re on holiday at the time, you would be able to complete it and get home safely.
See the financial protection page of the AITO website for more in depth information.