What is ATOL and how does it protect you?
ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) is a scheme that protects travellers and their money if the travel operator they booked with ceases trading, before, or whilst they’re on holiday. This means you will be able to claim your money back or continue your holiday and be repatriated.
The majority of ATOL protected trips are package holidays – when you book multiple travel elements, such as flights and a hotel, for a single price through a tour operator, or travel agent (either online or in person).
Any package holiday sold in the UK must be ATOL protected. The scheme was introduced in 1973, following a series of high-profile business failures, and ATOL now protects millions of travellers each year.
ATOL holders pay £2.50 per traveller into a trust fund, which is used to repatriate, refund, or reimburse travellers if their travel operator ceases trading.
What does ATOL protect?
ATOL only comes into force if your travel operator stops trading. ATOL does not cover situations such as cancelled flights.
However, ATOL protected package holidays are covered by package holiday regulations, which would allow you to claim a refund if your flight was cancelled. You can find out more about package holidays by reading our ‘What are package holidays?’ blog.
While uncommon, the scheme also applies to some flight only bookings. However, this is normally on flights where you pay for your ticket in instalments, or do not receive your ticket straight away after paying.
ATOL does not regulate the service you receive from your tour operator, if you have an issue with your trip which is not linked to your ATOL certificate or claim, you should raise this with your operator in the first instance. If your complaint is not resolved, and your company is a member of either ABTA or the Travel Trust Association then you should contact them for further guidance.
How can I tell if something is ATOL protected?
Any company selling an ATOL protected trip, should state that the package is ATOL protected and they will display the scheme’s logo on their website or in their shop window.
You should also receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you pay any amount towards your trip. Your travel operator should send you an updated certificate any time you make additional payments. Your certificate will display each element of your holiday that is financially protected by ATOL, and which ATOL holder is protecting your trip.
You can also use our Check an ATOL option to make sure your provider is an ATOL holder.
Your ATOL certificate
It is important to protect your ATOL certificate once you have received it and to take it with you when you travel. You can do this by downloading it or taking a physical copy with you.
The certificate is proof that the holiday or trip you booked is ATOL protected. It also includes instructions on how to make a claim if you need to.
If you haven’t received your certificate, you should contact your travel agent. This should be done well in advance of your travel date.
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