28 Sep

ABTA launches checklist for consumers on financial protection, including ATOL Certificates

ABTA today launched a new checklist for consumers offering advice on what paperwork to look for when booking travel arrangements.  The checklist is intended to help consumers understand the impact of the changes brought in by the Government reforms to the ATOL scheme of financial protection, including the introduction of ATOL certificates from Monday 1st October.

The “Your Protection Checklist” provides advice to consumers on the booking process and outlines what documentation you should receive when booking your travel arrangements.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “ABTA welcomes the implementation of ATOL Certificates as a helpful step forward in providing consumers with evidence of their protection under the ATOL system of financial protection and also for streamlining the ATOL claims process. However, there is still much confusion about what holiday arrangements are or are not protected by ATOL and therefore what paperwork consumers should expect to receive. ATOL certificates are only evidence of ATOL protected holidays. ABTA estimates that around 50% of holiday arrangements sit outside of the ATOL scheme. Some of these will be ABTA protected, for example cruise and rail holidays, some may not be protected at all. “Your Protection Checklist” will help holidaymakers to understand what to look for and what documentation they need. We also advise consumers to always check what is protected when making a booking.”

Currently, the law requires package holidays and “Flight-Plus” holidays (when a consumer buys separate flights, accommodation and/or car hire from a travel agent at the same time) to be financially protected. This is done through the ATOL scheme of financial protection if the holiday involves a flight, or through a bond held with an association such as ABTA if it is a non-flight based package. For example, ABTA protects approximately 3.7m holidaymakers each year for packages where transport is not flight based, such as domestic, train, coach or cruise holidays, as well as many single element bookings. 

However, because airline holiday sales are currently exempt from the ATOL scheme there is no legal requirement for airlines to financially protect holidays in the same way, so a consumer may believe they’re covered when they’re not. Due to exceptions such as this, ABTA estimates approximately 38% of the flight based holiday market is still unprotected.

ABTA’s “Your Protection Checklist” is available on ABTA’s website and in many Member retail outlets.

For background:

  • ATOL bookings made before October 1st, 2012 do not require an ATOL certificate whatever the departure date
  • The following are exempt from the ATOL scheme of financial protection:
  1. Corporate sales
  2. Certain sales where the customer’s credit card is used by the agent for flight only
  3. Flight only sales made by airline ticket agents