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What does ATOL protection mean?

ATOL protection covers flight-based trips booked with a UK travel company. If your package holiday is ATOL protected, it means you’ll get support and financial help if your travel company collapses.

The name ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme. The scheme began in 1973. Travel companies that are members of this scheme are called ATOL holders.

Ever wondered how ATOL protection is funded? ATOL holders pay a fee for each traveller. The fees are held in a fund managed by the Air Travel Trust. This fund is used to refund, repatriate or reimburse travellers if their travel company ceases trading.

What is ATOL protection?

ATOL protection covers you before and during your holiday.

If your travel company stops trading before you go on holiday, we will give you a refund.

If you are abroad when your travel company collapses, we’ll help you to continue your holiday. Then we’ll get you home. We will:

  • Ensure you can stay in your holiday accommodation if possible
  • Reimburse you for any money you spent to replace ATOL protected parts of your holiday, e.g car hire
  • Arrange flights home, depending on the circumstances.

When you book an ATOL protected holiday, you will receive an ATOL certificate. It will show you who and what is covered, as well as providing guidance on what to do if your travel company stops trading. You should always keep a paper or digital copy of this certificate saved with you while you are abroad.

Holidays that are ATOL protected

ATOL holiday protection covers package holidays sold by UK travel companies. ATOL protected package holidays usually include a flight, accommodation, car hire and/or onward travel, eg bus tickets. Some flight-only bookings are also ATOL protected.


Some flights are ATOL protected. Your travel company should make it clear if your flight is ATOL protected before you book. If you book an ATOL protected flight, you will be sent an ATOL certificate after booking. You will not receive a valid flight ticket in exchange for payment.


Accommodation-only bookings are not ATOL protected. However, the travel company you are booking with may be a member of other organisations, meaning you may be entitled to other forms of protection. Take a look at the travel company’s website to see which organisations they are members of before booking.

Booking with a travel agent

Travel agents often sell holidays on behalf of other companies. You may need to check which company originally created your package holiday to see whether they are an ATOL holder.

See the differences between a travel agent and a tour operator.

Always check for ATOL protection

Not all holidays are ATOL protected.

Not all products sold by ATOL holders are ATOL protected.

Always check for ATOL protection with your travel company or travel agent before you buy.