How to protect air holiday packages

An Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. When buying a package holiday you should check that it has an ATOL before handing over any money.

Before an ATOL is issued, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) checks out the tour operator, to reduce the risk of failure. It also requires travel firms to pay into the CAA’s financial guarantee scheme. This scheme is designed to protect customers. If your tour operator were to fail, the CAA should make a refund to you, or, if you’re abroad, it should arrange for you to finish your holiday and fly home.

If an airline you’re due to travel with fails, the ATOL-protected tour operator must make alternative flight arrangements for you, whether you’re already on holiday or due to go.

Where to check for an ATOL?
Check your holiday brochures and websites for the ATOL logo and licence number.Ask your travel agent whether your complete holiday is ATOL protected and for the ATOL number. You can also check names of travel companies and ATOL numbers at the CAA’s website http://www.caa.co.uk

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 cancelled, 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.

Paying by credit or Visa debit card
If you pay for your holiday 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 such as your accommodation. Paying by Visa debit card may provide similar cover, you will need to check with your card provider.

Travel insurance
ATOL does not protect you if you book direct with an airline or book just accommodation. This is why it is important to check that you have adequate travel insurance cover in place before you travel. Our 24/7 travel insurance ‘Premier’ policies automatically include BONDPLUS financial failure – cover in the event your holiday is cancelled due to the financial failure of your accommodation or travel provider.

When buying your travel insurance, don’t assume that every policy is the same. Your needs may be different from others, so make sure the policy you buy provides the cover that you require.

Click here for an instant 24/7 travel insurance quote, for just £7.33* 24/7 travel insurance will cover you for a 3-day trip to Europe including Financial Failure cover!

*Premium £7.33 includes Insurance Premium Tax; based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a ‘Premier’ single-trip policy for 3 days in Europe excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (September 2010) and are subject to change.