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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 5 Mar 2021

My travel company has gone bust, what can I do?

It's vital to find out whether your booking is protected if your holiday company has gone bust. Here's what you need to know - plus the impact on your travel insurance.
Which?Editorial team
My travel company has gone bust, what can I do?

Find out whether your booking will go ahead

If you're yet to travel, your first action should be to contact the travel company to make sure that your booking is in place. If the travel agent you booked with goes out of business, this shouldn’t affect your travel plans. 

If you can't reach them, contact your tour operator, or accommodation/flight provider to check they have your booking on record.

If your booking is going ahead, then your travel arrangements should continue unaffected. It’s important to keep all your booking information and make a record of your correspondence. 

You can contact the ABTA claims enquiries office for advice and assistance.


Top tip: check with multiple companies

If a travel company or travel agent goes bust, it's always best to check in several places to find out if your booking could go ahead. 

  • If your travel agent goes bust, contact your tour operator, your accommodation provider and/or your flight provider/airline.
  • If you booked through a travel agent and your tour operator goes out of business, contact your agent for assistance.
  • If you have made a booking with a company that has gone out of business, and that company is an ABTA Member, you may be able to make a financial claim.

Find out if your booking is covered

Atol protection applies to most air trips abroad that are booked with UK travel companies. 

If you are covered by Atol, your travel company should have given you an Atol certificate when you booked.

Read our guide on how to find out whether your holiday is Atol protected, if you are unsure. 

Package holidays

The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 require organisers of package holidays to provide protection for your money and to bring you home if necessary.

  • A package holiday is when you book more than one part of your holiday through the same travel agent or website.

If the company you booked either of these with is a member of the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) scheme, your money will be protected.

Linked Travel Arrangements

  • A Linked Travel Arrangement is when you buy one part of your holiday and then are prompted to buy another part via a click-through within 24 hours.

Linked Travel Arrangements aren't covered by Atol but benefit from other insolvency protections.

Key Information

Will my package holiday still be covered after Brexit?

You'll still have the same rights and protections on your package holiday after Brexit, unless the government decides to change the law in the future.

Read our guide on how Brexit could impact consumer rights for more information.

How to make an Atol claim

You may be able to make a claim under the scheme if:

  • You have booked a trip that you are due to take in the future, but the Atol holder has since stopped trading
  • The Atol holder has stopped trading while you are abroad, resulting in your trip being disrupted or your flight back to the UK being cancelled

Make an Atol claim for a future booking

If you were given an Atol Certificate when you booked, read it carefully – it explains who is protecting your trip and what to do.

You will need to establish the type of Atol protected trip you were booked on before completing a claim form.

The information the CAA publishes about the failed Atol holder will explain what information they need to refund you.

As long as your trip is protected, you will not lose out - the CAA always aims to refund you for the unused Atol protected parts of your trip.

Make an Atol claim if you're currently abroad

If you were given an Atol Certificate when you booked, read it carefully – it explains who is protecting your trip and what to do.

The CAA will do everything possible to ensure you can finish and enjoy your trip without disruption.

Information explaining what arrangements will be made to allow you to complete your trip and fly home can be found on the CAA's Latest Atol Holder Failures page.

You should select the relevant failed Atol holder for further details.

If you have any difficulties while abroad, call the CAA on +44 (0) 333 103 6350. They will explain the situation and discuss your options.

Flight-only arrangements

The Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) Regulations 2012 are overseen by the CAA and require tour operators who sell flight-only arrangements to provide protection for your money and to bring you home if necessary. 

This protection does not apply to flights that are bought directly from an airline.

Flight-only arrangements bought through a travel agent aren't always protected under the Atol scheme. You should always ask. 

Where travel arrangements aren't already protected, most ABTA Members will be able to arrange protection using a suitable insurance policy.

Keep the evidence  If a protection scheme is in place for your money, it's important that you obtain and keep all relevant paperwork so that you can make a claim for your money if necessary.

Section 75 protection

You may also have a claim against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974

To be eligible, you need to have paid more than £100 for your flights or holiday, and used your credit card to book direct with the tour operator or airline - usually this means it needs to be either the airline or holiday company listed on your credit card bill. 

But, some credit card companies will give a refund even if you've paid via a travel agent and it's the agent's name listed on your credit card bill. 

Alternatively, if the tour operator is a member of ABTA (The Travel Association), your money will be protected by the Association even if the credit card company is also liable, as long as there is a booking in place.

Chargeback scheme

If you’ve paid by debit card you may also be able to claim through the Mastercard and Visa Chargeback scheme.

The Chargeback scheme lets you ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your debit card, or if you spent less than £100 on a credit card. Unlike Section 75 it's not enshrined in law, but it's a scheme most high street banks subscribe to.

Travel insurance

It would also be a good idea to contact your travel insurance company. 

Not all travel insurance policies will cover you in the event that a travel company goes bust. 

Make sure you double check the small print to ensure the policy includes end-supplier failure. This should cover you if companies you have booked through - such as your airline, car hire firm or accommodation supplier - fail.