If you’re familiar with booking cheap holidays online, chances are you’ve seen the term ‘ATOL Protected. This is something you’ll see on each and every one of our holiday deals. In this blog post, we explore what being ATOL protected means, as well as how it benefits you and your holiday buddies!
ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence. The difference between an ATOL protected holiday and one that isn’t ATOL protected is that, in the event that something goes wrong, you’re protected from losing the money you’ve paid or being stranded abroad.
Picture the scene, you’ve finally made the last payment on the holiday of your dreams. You’ve worked hard to earn the money to pay for your dream Caribbean escape, and that dream is finally becoming a reality. Imagine the horror you’d feel if you then realised that the company you booked your holiday with has become a casualty of financial problems, and has ceased trading.
The company is no longer in a position to take anyone on holiday. Not only does this mean that you won’t be jetting off to your island paradise anytime soon, it also means that there’s a good chance you won’t be seeing the money you’ve paid again either.
However, if you’ve booked through one of the ATOL protected holiday sites, this means that they have been verified by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA is responsible for issuing ATOL certificates, and requires firms to pay into the CAA’s financial guarantee scheme. This is where the money comes from to protect customers.
If a company has an ATOL membership, they will most likely make this known on their website or in their travel brochures, so it’s worth checking these. If you can’t find anything suggesting that their holidays are ATOL bonded, ask them whether the holiday you wish to book is ATOL protected.
Ask your travel agent for their ATOL number and ATOL certificate. You can also check the names of ATOL members on the CAA website.
There are some holiday websites out there, usually operated from outside of the UK, that falsely claim to sell ATOL protected holidays. Minimise the risk of this happening to you by familiarising yourself with the following points:
Please note that the above list is by no means exhaustive. If you have any suspicions regarding an ATOL membership, ask for their ATOL number and check with the CAA.
In the unlikely event that your travel agency goes bust whilst you’re on your holiday, you need to make your hotel aware of the situation. If your holiday is ATOL protected, the CAA aims to fly all holidaymakers back home as close to their planned departure date as possible. You will be allocated a flight home, and not necessarily to the same UK airport that you flew from. In the occurrence that you are to be flown back to a different airport, a free transfer to the airport you originally flew from will be arranged.
Anything that wasn’t included in the original transaction that you booked with the ATOL protected holiday company will not be refunded by the CAA. However, if you booked it using a credit card, you should be able to claim a refund through your card issuer if it was over £100.
Taking our travel insurance might give you some protection, but it’s vital that you check the smallprint before making any assumptions. It’s common for travel insurance to not include cover for insolvency, and you don’t want to find this out when it’s too late.
For more information on how you’re protected when booking with Holiday Gems, please visit our Consumer Protection page.