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As consumers look set to book their 2020 holidays, Civil Aviation Authority finds worrying number of consumers still don’t know how to check for ATOL protection

Thomas Cook ceased trading on 23 September 2019, leaving over 140,000 travellers abroad that were repatriated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. This was the largest peacetime repatriation in British history. While all passengers were repatriated, regardless of ATOL protection, only those with ATOL protection benefited from having their accommodation guaranteed, as well as any additional accommodation required and the opportunity to claim for any out of pocket expenses as a result of the disruption.

While those that were due to travel on an ATOL protected package holiday with Thomas Cook were able to claim for a full refund, those without protection were left out of pocket when Thomas Cook ceased trading. Now, as consumers look set to book their holidays for 2020, we find that a third of holidaymakers still do not know how to check for ATOL protection when booking their holiday. This is following research from ATOL, where we asked a nationally representative sample of over 4000 UK adults about their holiday plans for 2020.

  • Two thirds (66%) of holidaymakers said that Thomas Cook ceasing to trade will not deter them from booking a package holiday in 2020
  • However, only 67% of holidaymakers state that they know how to check for ATOL protection, leaving 33% either unaware or not sure whether they are covered.

Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL:

“Thomas Cook ceasing to trade was a great loss for the industry, customers and employees. It has also highlighted the importance of booking an ATOL protected package holiday. While booking flights and hotels separately can give consumers greater control over their holiday and, in some cases, can lead to some great deals, travellers leave themselves vulnerable if they do not have financial protection.

“It is very positive to see holidaymakers excited to book trips abroad for 2020 and heartening to learn that the collapse of Thomas Cook has not shaken people’s confidence in travelling abroad. However, it is still worrying that a large proportion of travellers do not know how to check for this protection.

“Ultimately, these trips are about so much more than just a week in the sun and we are committed to helping consumers protect these experiences.”

There are a number of ways to check for ATOL protection before booking:

  • Look out for the ATOL logo – whether on your travel company’s website, shop window or brochures, each ATOL holder has to display an ATOL logo along with their unique ATOL number.
  • Make sure you are booking a package – not everything sold by an ATOL holder will be covered. ATOL covers flight-inclusive package holidays, meaning if you book accommodation and flights separately, you likely will not be covered.
  • Double check their ATOL number on our database – you can search for a travel company on our database – This will show you if they are a valid ATOL holder, as well as any trading names.
  • Check your ATOL certificate – you should receive your certificate straight after booking. If you don’t, make sure to request this immediately as it will show who and what is covered, as well as who is providing your protection.

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