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How do I protect my holiday?

Date posted: 15.12.2020

You’ve got a million tabs open.

Comparing flight times, hotel prices, package deals – it can be a lot.

The last thing you want to be thinking about is whether you are leaving yourself financially vulnerable by clicking that book button. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some holiday types and their protection level.

Package Holidays

Package holidays can come in a variety of forms, with different levels of protection for each type. Fortunately, there is legislation that requires any company selling a package holiday to provide insolvency protection. This means you shouldn’t lose money if your travel company folds.

What is a package holiday?

A package holiday is a combination of travel elements – e.g. a flight and hotel stay – that is sold by a travel company together in one inclusive price.

ATOL protected package holidays

This is the best level of protection you can get for your trip. It means that, if your travel company ceases trading, you’ll either get your money back or complete your trip as planned. This includes arranging repatriation flights if needed.

UK companies that sell package holidays, specifically ones that include a flight, must be registered with ATOL by law. As soon as you pay any money towards your booking, you’ll get a certificate, which should show exactly what’s covered, as well as which company is providing your ATOL protection.

Sometimes, your travel agent won’t be the company providing your ATOL protection. See our page on the difference between tour operators and travel agents for more information.

It’s also worth noting that travel companies based outside the UK don’t need to provide ATOL protection, so use our Check an ATOL search tool to check your travel company.

Coach, rail and cruise holidays

If your package holiday doesn’t include a flight but is still a combination of different travel elements sold together, you won’t be covered by ATOL.

However, there are still insolvency protection schemes in place for these kinds of holidays. You should speak to your travel company to see which scheme will cover your booking.

Linked Travel Arrangements

Linked Travel Arrangements, or LTAs, don’t fall under the traditional definition of a package holiday but still should have some protections in place.

A Linked Travel Arrangement is where booking one travel element directs you to book another travel element, with a different travel company, within 24 hours.

Your travel company should explain how your booking will be protected clearly before you book.

DIY Holidays

DIY holidays can be a great way to find some deals, or to create a more individually tailored booking. However, they aren’t covered by the same legislation as package holidays, so 

Flight bookings

Flight bookings, whether you book via a travel agent or direct with the airline, are subject to strict laws. If your flight is cancelled, delayed or amended, you may be entitled to a refund or compensation. Visit the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s website for more information.

While these laws protect you if your flight is cancelled or delayed, you’ll need to take out travel insurance to cover you against any other risks. 

Unfortunately, most flight bookings aren’t ATOL protected, so be aware of the risks before you book.

Accommodation Bookings

Booking a villa? A hotel? A yurt?

While you won’t have the same cover as a package holiday, the way that you book your accommodation can have an impact.

If you book directly with the accommodation, where you pay for your stay in advance, you may need to take out travel insurance to cover any hiccups in your trip.

If you book with a travel agent, or with an online booking service, there are a few ways that your money can be protected. 

Some websites hold your money in a trust account or only ask for a deposit, meaning there isn’t any worry that the owner will run off with your hard-earned cash. Make sure you only pay via the website’s official booking system, rather than transferring money to any bank accounts.

Some travel agents are members of ABTA, who may be able to offer assistance if there are any problems with your trip. Visit their website for more information.

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