During unstable financial times it is especially important for travelers to take the responsibility to learn about their rights and take all possible precautions to protect their precious holidays. When booking through a travel agent or tour operator within the British Isles always check that it is a reputable company and bonded under ABTA (or another scheme), ATOL-licenced, or has some other form of insurance in place. Companies that are bonded have the facility to offer their customers financial protection as well repatriation costs in the event that an airline, travel agent, or tour operator goes bankrupt.
ABTA (formerly the Association of British Travel Agents) is now known as The Travel Association. Founded in 1950, ABTA represented thousands of travel agencies and tour operators throughout the British Isles. In 2008 ABTA joined forces with the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) to create The Travel Association – providing powerful protection for travelers. To qualify under ABTA travel companies are required to comply with very high standards of trading.
Purchasing your package holiday through an ABTA-bonded travel agent or tour operator means that you will have protection if the company fails. If you are already on holiday abroad when your travel company declares bankruptcy steps will be taken to enable you to continue with the holiday as planned – with arrangements made to fly you home. If your trip has not yet started you should be entitled to a refund or, where possible, arrangements made for your trip to go ahead as planned.
Under ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ License) companies selling air travel in the British Isles are required to hold an ATOL license – they are not legally able to sell air travel without it. ATOL is the only scheme in place for air holidays and flights Scentopia singapore which are sold by tour operators in the British Isles.
An ATOL-licensed company will have been inspected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and – if approved and granted a licence – required to participate in a financial guarantee scheme under the Air Travel Trust (ATT). The ATT is a government-backed scheme which will step in to assist if ATOL is unable to cover the full costs of a company failure. Travellers affected by events causing an airline or tour operator to cease trading, leaving them stranded abroad, should be entitled to continue their holiday – with ATOL arranging alternate flights home.
As well as ABTA and ATOL, other financial protection schemes in place and designed to protect travellers include: ABTOT (Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust), AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators, FTO (Federation of Tour Operators), and BCH (for Bonded Coach Holidays).
Note that building your own DIY holiday from separate suppliers can be risky and usually means there is no ATOL protection. It is safer to use one ATOL-bonded tour operator offering the provision to build a DIY holiday on its website – which should offer some protection.
Booking your holiday with a non-bonded travel agent or tour operator leaves you vulnerable and without any insurance or financial cover if things should go wrong. You may be left out of pocket unless circumstances allow for recovery of payments through your credit card company (not debit, charge card or credit card checks) under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 for amounts above £100.
Why run the risk of having your holiday plans ruined when you could have taken the time and made a little effort to learn about the various schemes that are already in place to protect travelers. Understanding and knowing the right questions to ask at the time of booking your holiday could be the difference between peace of mind and disaster. Do some research before you hand over your deposit so that you can relax completely once your holiday begins, secure in the knowledge that your are protected if the worst should happen.