Protecting Your Holiday Package
ATOL protection stands simply for An Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) and protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. Travel companies that sell air holiday packages are required to have this license and must issue a certificate to you in order to prove your holiday benefits from this protection.
When issuing an ATOL to an organisation, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will also inspect firms to help the success rate. A business that has attained the license is also required to pay into the CAA’s financial guarantee scheme. With ATOL protection, in circumstances where your tour operator were to fail, the CAA will either refund you or, if you’re abroad, will arrange for you to complete your holiday and fly home.
In advance of your holiday, if an airline fails, the ATOL protected tour operator must organise alternative flight arrangements for you regardless of whether you’re already on holiday or waiting to go. It is important to note that ATOL does not protect you if you book direct with an airline or if you solely book accomodation.
Checking You Are Covered
Check brochures and websites for the ATOL logo and licence number.
Ask your travel agent whether your complete holiday is ATOL protected, for the ATOL number and for the ATOL certificate. Check names of travel firms and ATOL numbers at the CAA’s website (www.atol.org.uk).
Paying By Credit Or Visa Debit Card
If you pay for a component by credit card and it costs more than £100 you will have some cover, but this will only apply to the service you’ve lost, not other services you have booked separately (for example covering your flights if your airline goes bust, not your accommodation). Paying by Visa debit card may provide similar cover.
Taking out travel insurance may give you some protection but check the small print, as many policies do not include cover for insolvency, while those that do will usually cover just the service you’ve lost, not the other services you have booked separately.
Flight delays and denied boarding
Depending on the circumstances, European law requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers during delays. This includes catering, communications, and overnight accommodation if necessary.
If a delay extends beyond five hours, passengers can request a refund if they choose not to travel. If a flight is canceled, alternative flight options should be offered. Where these are unacceptable, a full ticket refund should be provided, and in some instances, compensation should be offered.