Financial protection for holidaymakers in the UK is a mish-mash of legislation badly in need of reform. The main points to note are set out below but as the current legislation is so anomalous it is vital that you check the financial protection, if any, with your AITO Specialist Travel Agent before you book.
1. In the UK overseas air travel is protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) through its ATOL arrangements. Individual travel agents are usually bonded by organisations such as The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) or the Travel Trust Association (TTA).
2. The ATOL protection extends to package holidays and flights purchased from a bonded tour operator it does not include scheduled airline tickets purchased at published fares direct from the airline either by yourself or your travel agent. This can lead to a situation where some people on an aircraft are protected should the airline fail and some are not. Ridiculous as it may seem those people buying a discounted air fare from an ATOL holder will be protected while those paying the full published fare will not.
3. Self-packaged holidays (where you purchase the elements of the holiday separately from different suppliers) are not covered by the ATOL arrangement. If the airline fails or your accommodation is double booked you will not receive compensation from the CAA, neither will you receive compensation for any other element of your holiday which you may no longer be able to use but still have to pay for. Suppose for example you booked a flight from a no-frills airline on the Internet and then also booked accommodation and car hire. If the airline cancels your flight you will still have to pay for the accommodation and car hire, even if you can no longer use them. Your travel insurance will not cover these costs as they are regarded as contingent liabilities which will almost certainly be excluded under the normal terms of your policy..
4. Where your flight or travel arrangements are covered by the ATOL protection system you will receive an ATOL confirmation invoice, either direct from the tour operator or via your travel agent. This will state the name and ATOL number of the tour operator handling your arrangements. Be careful if you mix individually booked travel arrangements with a package holiday.
5. Don’t rely on your credit card company bailing you out if things go wrong. Check the situation with them before you present your card for payment.
6. Some travel policies may include scheduled airline failure. This will cover you for the cost of your flight if the airline fails but will not cover you for unused accommodation etc.
7. If you are in any doubt as to the protection available for a specific travel arrangement talk the matter over with your local AITO Specialist Travel Agent BEFORE you book..