Last week UK tour operator Diamond Shortbreak Holidays announced on its website that it was ceasing trading with immediate effect, meaning 7,000 holidays were cancelled.
This could have been a nightmare scenario for Brits – but luckily the company was a member of ABTA and flights were ATOL protected.
Although still an inconvenience for those who’d booked a trip through the tour operator, these protections meant that those affected could claim a full refund to put towards an alternative holiday.
ATOL is the consumer protection branch of the Civil Aviation Authority.
ATOL shares its top tips for ensuring you and your holiday are protected
When a holiday is ATOL protected, it means that holidaymakers will be able to get home or claim a refund for flight-based packages should a company go bust.
ABTA is the UK’s largest travel association, representing travel agents and tour operators. Booking with a company that is an ABTA member means consumers are protected in the event that their tour operator goes out of business.
It has a quick, clear and simple process to follow so those affected can continue their holiday as planned or get their money back.
In the wake of Diamond Shortbreak Holidays’ collapse, ATOL shares its top tips and travel advice for ensuring you and your holiday are protected should the worst happen.
Do your research
Some travel websites falsely display the “ATOL Protected” logo to defraud customers out of their hard earned cash. You can check a company has ATOL protection easily. Simply write down the company name and/or the four or five digit ATOL number. Visit packpeaceofmind.co.uk and enter the details into the “Check an ATOL” database, which has a list of all ATOL registered companies.
Think beyond the price
There are many foreign-based travel companies offering cheap and attractive package holidays – but these will not have ATOL protection. If booking with a non-UK travel company, find out what financial protection it provides and if this covers company failure and repatriation. If not, it’s worth taking out additional travel insurance to include insolvency protection, which may mean you pay extra.
Take your ATOL certificate
You’ll receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you pay any money towards an ATOL-protected holiday. The certificate confirms what is protected, which company is responsible for your holiday booking (it may not be the company you booked with directly) and what to do if the company ceases trading. Whether you print out the certificate or have a digital version with you, it’s important to take the certificate on holiday.
Use a credit card
If booking through a number of different travel operators, your holiday won’t be ATOL protected, so remember to pay with a credit or debit card. These cards provide some protection if the goods and services you’ve booked are not delivered – for instance if one of the travel operators fails – but may not cover consequential losses.
Also ensure you have travel insurance that will cover medical costs and other potential expenses such as damage or loss of any possessions you take with you.
Think outside the box
There are plenty of ways to tailor a holiday for you and your family, so don’t be put off by the term “package holiday”. Buying a package where flights and accommodation are booked through one company means your holiday will be ATOL protected and your money will be safe. Remember, if you book a hotel and flight with different suppliers, your whole trip will not be ATOL protected, and you could lose your hard earned cash if either company fails.