Consumers who want to book next year’s summer holidays are being urged to check whether their breaks are financially protected.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) operates the Atol scheme which provides financial protection for air holiday packages bought from tour operators.
This means that if a tour operator goes bankrupt then the CAA will refund holidaymakers and repatriate those stranded abroad.
But this protection doesn’t apply to ‘DIY’ packages – those put together by consumers.
The CAA estimates that up to 18 million British consumers travelled on DIY packages in 2007, booking their own flights and accommodation separately.
But while DIY holidays are not Atol-protected, many consumers mistakenly believe they would be protected should their airline, hotel or car hire company go bust.
The CAA has issued this advice:
- check that the travel firm has Atol protection by looking for the Atol logo and licence number in brochures and on websites
- if buying online, don’t book until you are sure you are covered and ask the travel firm whether you will get a full refund or be repatriated if it or a supplier stops trading
- if you are not Atol-protected, travel insurance can provide some cover, but as most policies do not cover insolvency, you need to check carefully that your insurance gives this cover
- paying by credit card will give some cover, but remember it will only apply to the service lost, not other services booked separately
- remember you will have no cover when paying by debit card.
Which? travel expert Bob Tolliday said: ‘Don’t assume your holiday is protected regardless of how you booked it. It pays to double-check and if you are going on a DIY holiday it would be best to pay with a credit card which will give some cover.