Top10TravelAgents.com – What Does ATOL Protected Mean?
I’m sure you will have heard about ATOL protected holidays, if you have ever booked, or are planning a holiday from the UK. What is this protection, and why do you need it? When are you protected, and how do you check whether you’re covered or not? If you are new to ATOL protection, this article will answer most of your questions. Let’s get started…
What is ATOL?
Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) is the United Kingdom’s financial protection program, and it protects you when you book your holiday with a UK travel agency that is ATOL protected.
ATOL was introduced in 1973 as overseas travel grew. This was after many people got stranded in airports and accommodation facilities after travel business failure. The UK government realized the need to protect travelers, and they introduced ATOL protection as a result.
The UK government designed the ATOL program to cover package holidays and charter flights. However, ATOL protection was not mandatory until 1st October 2012. Since 2012, all travel agencies in the UK must offer ATOL protected travel and holiday packages.
What Does ATOL Cover?
As defined by UK law, ATOL protected package holidays that incorporate flights, and some flight-only packages. Therefore, if the travel package you buy has ATOL protection, you will get an ATOL certificate from your travel agency after making your payment. It is important to keep this certificate safe.
With ATOL cover, it means you will get support to ensure you do not suffer financial loss as a result of operator failure, or get stranded abroad without assistance when your ATOL holder ceases trading for whatever reason. You will get all your money back, and a flight home if you’re abroad, if the worst should happen.
What Circumstances Does ATOL Cover?
ATOL protection applied to package holidays sold by UK travel companies. Some situations when your ATOL cover will apply includes when:
- You book flights with accommodation, including cruises
- You book flights and vehicle hire as a package
- You book flights, accommodation, and vehicle hire as a package
- Some flight-only bookings
Before booking flight-only packages, always double-check to ensure you are ATOL protected, as not all flight packages enjoy this protection. In addition, note that when you book your flight directly from the airline, you will not have any ATOL protection.
How Do I Know Whether My Holiday is ATOL Protected?
European and UK laws require travel companies to protect their package holidays financially in their respective countries. For instance, travel agencies in the UK offer protection under the ATOL program, while other agents use other protection schemes such as ABTA. Therefore, travel agencies should tell you which country will financially protect your booking.
Another way to check if your booking has ATOL protection is to check for the ATOL logo on the travel website before booking. If you are unsure whether the travel agent is an ATOL holder or not, phone them up or email. You can as well check if the travel agent in question is in the ATOL database.
Finally, when you book your holiday, ensure that you receive your ATOL certificate. The law requires you to get a certificate when you complete your payment towards your flight or holiday. Keep in mind that if you book with a travel agent that is not a holder of ATOL, your holiday is not protected.
What is the Content of the ATOL Certificate?
Your ATOL Certificate shows that the holiday or flight you booked enjoys ATOL protection. It is a document acknowledged by UK law. The document explains what security you are entitled to, and what to do if your travel agency collapses. Therefore, you need to keep the certificate safe and take it on holiday so that you can make a claim if required.
Are all Travel Agents ATOL Holders?
Not all travel agents in Europe are ATOL holders. This is why it is essential to check if your preferred travel agent is ATOL protected before booking. While some agents do not have this protection, they have other protection schemes such as ABTA. The bottom line is checking and ensuring that the travel agent offers the protection you need.
Watch Out for!
When booking your holiday, be wary of fake websites. Some websites claim to offer ATOL protected holidays, but they are not legitimate ATOL holders. If you have reasons to doubt your online travel agent, check the ATOL database to see if they are listed.