The internet has opened up a whole new world when it comes to booking holiday and travel arrangements. We no longer need to trek to the local travel agent, browse dated brochures, and pick up paper tickets; we can simply switch on the PC or open up the iPad and book all our trips abroad from the comfort of our own home – perfect! But is it safe?
When it comes to booking a traditional holiday package from a tour operator or travel agent, associations such as the Civil Aviation Authority ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licensing) will, in most instances, provide cover and ensure we get a refund, alternative holiday, or repatriated to our home country in the event that the travel agent goes bust.
However, when we start booking different elements of a holiday on our own (i.e. flights from one supplier, accommodation from another) the ‘responsibility of cover’ becomes vague, and we might not have the protection we need.
In order to keep up with the modern holiday market, ATOL has introduced a reform that will offer extra protection to consumers who wish to tailor make their travel arrangements with the help of online tour operators and travel agents.
As a result, an extra “six million holidays will be protected every year”, and providing you receive a detailed ATOL certificate when you book your dream holiday, you can be confident that your booking is safe and insured.
Items not covered by ATOL are flight only bookings made directly with the airline (including budget airlines), and holidays whereby different elements of the trip are booked with different tour operators, so while it may be tempting to save a few pounds by shopping around – you might just lose out in the long run.
However, if you book a flight valued over £100 directly with the airline and pay for it with a credit card, the credit card company may cover you – so it is always a good idea to check with your provider before making your booking.
Shopping for holidays and booking online is great fun, and by looking out for tour operators with an ATOL logo/number, in addition to other consumer protection associations such as Travel Trust (TTA), you can be sure your holiday is covered, and all you need to worry about is the packing!