New rules governing sales of holidays come into force today, meaning many more people will be protected if their travel company goes bust.
The changes to the government’s Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Atol) scheme mean millions more people will be guaranteed their money back if a travel company collapses before they travel, or will be brought home at no extra cost if a company fails while they are abroad.
Until today, the Atol scheme protected only package holidays. Consumers could find that they weren’t covered even if they had bought a flight and accommodation from the same company, simply because the holiday had not been sold as a package.
Protection for holidays
The reforms have closed that loophole and now most travel companies that sell a flight alongside accommodation, transfers, car hire, or any other part of a holiday, must be part of the Atol scheme.
However, the reforms have still left airlines exempt from the scheme, so anyone booking a hotel room or car hire from an airline website will not be covered by Atol. Which? believes airlines should be included in the scheme.
Holiday booking rights
The reforms, known as Flight Plus, also require travel companies to give consumers an Atol certificate when they buy a holiday, stating what protection they have. However, they will not be legally obliged to do that until October 1.
In the meantime, retailers that sell a flight and another holiday component must add a paragraph to documents given to the consumer, stating that the holiday is Atol-protected.
How to protect your holiday
If you buy your holiday from an airline or book the flight, accommodation and other elements from separate companies, your holiday will not be protected by Atol.
However, there are ways you can protect yourself. If you take out travel insurance that includes airline or supplier failure cover, you will be covered if a company does go bust.
You should also consider paying with a credit card as, for purchases over £100, you will be entitled to a refund of any money you lose if a company goes bust.