ATOL changes: Is my holiday covered?

Changes to ATOL protection take effect on April 30, meaning that millions more British holidaymakers will be covered by the scheme. Our travel expert, Bob Atkinson, explains what these reforms are and what they will mean for you and your travel plans.

The ATOL holiday protection scheme was first introduced in 1973, but as more and more of us now make our own travel plans, the number of holidays protected has fallen.

With the revised ATOL reforms taking effect from April 30, we finally have some really great news for millions of British holidaymakers.

What are the changes and how will they affect me?

The new type of ATOL introduced is called Flight-Plus.

This is designed to cover holidays where you book a flight, and then add on a hotel or hire car with your travel supplier. This will cover many trips that previously went uncovered – those booked either online, via call centres and in travel agents.

However, Flight-Plus protection only kicks in if you book a flight and then request a hotel or car hire from your travel supplier within one day. If, however, you wait a week to request the hotel you won’t be covered.

More clarity for travellers

The changes are also designed to make it clear to consumers about what is covered and what isn’t. All retailers have the responsibility to make it clear what is covered under ATOL regulations and what isn’t in the sales process. If in doubt, ask!

ATOL certificates

From October 1 it will become compulsory to give a standard certificate to consumers detailing exactly what is covered and what isn’t together with advice on what to do if a company collapses. Each certificate will have a unique reference number and this will speed up claims.

What is the advice on booking holidays now?

You should still follow the three golden rules of protecting your holiday for a belt and braces approach, which are:

  • Wherever possible book an ATOL or a Flight-Plus covered holiday. If you doubt that the company is genuinely covered then check the licence with the Civil Aviation Authority. However, check that your arrangements are covered by the licence and NOT just that the seller actually holds a licence.
  • Pay by VISA or Mastercard debit card for charge back protection or by credit card so you can receive protection under the Consumer Credit Directive for transactions over £100.
  • If you book a holiday without protection, make sure that you have an insurance policy to cover End Supplier failure. This protects you against loss due to the collapse of a part of your holiday or the ability to re-book the failed element without incurring the additional costs, dependent on your policy.

Although the changes are a big step forward, bear in mind that certain trips are still not covered. For example, business travel arrangements are not covered by Flight-Plus, UK trips are not covered, and IMPORTANTLY flights made via airline’s websites are not included within the protection scheme.

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