Chances are that you’ll have probably enjoyed an ATOL-protected holiday before – even without realising it. Here, online travel agents Holidaygems.co.uk explain the importance of making sure your next holiday overseas has the peace of mind that ATOL provides.
ATOL, which means – Air Travel Organiser’s License – is a scheme which protects customers who have booked a holiday with a travel agent.
The protection, often termed as “peace of mind for holidaymakers”, is assurance to the customer that the money they have put towards the holiday is safe and assistance can be provided if the travel company fails.
Why should I be bothered by ATOL protection?
For many, an annual holiday out of the UK is a result of saving up money throughout the year and spending time away with loved ones. If a holiday company goes under before the holiday departure date, it could mean a massive financial loss and the cancellation of a trip abroad.
If the holidaymakers are already abroad when the travel agency collapses, a family who aren’t ATOL protected will have to find a way of paying for the rest of their stay and booking new flights home.
However, ATOL protection removes this risk, so all holidaymakers are protected by these circumstances which are out of their control.
What does ATOL protection cover on my holiday?
ATOL protection applies to the vast majority of holidays abroad booked with a UK travel agency. It is the law that says if you book the following with a travel agency, that you are covered.
- Flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or
- Flights and car hire, or
- Flights, accommodation and car hire
It’s important to note that booking flights direct with an airline does not cover you for ATOL protection.
The scheme also applies if:
The customer books flights (including UK domestic flights) and do not receive your tickets immediately. According to the Civil Aviation Authority website, this is most common with charter flights, but can also apply to discounted scheduled flights.
ATOL does not apply to holidays or flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or to flights booked with airline ticket agents.
Your holiday involves at least one flight to or from the UK. For instance, a fly/cruise break where you travel out by ship and fly home, or a holiday in France where you travel out by Eurostar but fly home.
You book a package that includes UK domestic flights
What happens if my travel company goes bust?
If a travel company goes bust, it can cause a lot of problems. For the airlines, hotels and tour operators as well as the holidaymakers. The relationship between all these parties falters when a travel agent fails. However, ATOL protection scheme makes sure that the holiday continues – and the return flights are arranged on behalf of the customer.
How do I find out whether my holiday is ATOL-protected?
While most holidays booked overseas with a UK travel agent will be protected, it’s always good practice to check. You can do this by:
- Checking for the ATOL logo on the website of the company you are booking your holiday with. If you cannot find it, ask you agent about where to find it.
- Visit this handy website which tells you exactly who is enrolled on the scheme via their name and ATOL number.
- Ensure you are given an ATOL certificate – by law, you should be given a copy of the certificate as soon as you pay any amount of money towards your holiday.
What if I haven’t been given an ATOL certificate?
By law, you should receive an ATOL certificate when you pay your agent any amount of money towards the cost of your holiday. Sometimes, it could be oversight, but there is also a small chance that the agency you have booked with has not enrolled on the scheme.
Although the chances of you needing ATOL protection are relatively slim, it’s important that your holiday is protected by it. Make sure you ask your agent about their ATOL certificate BEFORE you book your holiday, and check their registration if you need extra reassurance. It will give you the peace of mind to properly enjoy your well-deserved holiday!