Financial Protection in the Travel Industry
Making sure your holiday is financially protected may seem like a minefield but it's one of the most important things to consider when booking a holiday. If you get this wrong, you may find that your holiday gets cancelled with no chance of a refund, or you could find yourself stranded abroad with no financial help in getting home. We have put together a guide to financial protection in the travel industry so you can book your next holiday with confidence.
What is ABTA?
ABTA is the Association of British Travel Agents. Members of ABTA have a bond which ensures the client is financially protected should the Agent cease trading. ABTA assesses each of its members profitability each year and expects it's members to be profitable. ABTA has a code of conduct which it expects members to comply with. In addition, ABTA can also offer consumers a source of redress if something should go wrong with your holiday and you are not getting a satisfactory response from their member. As a result, the ABTA logo is considered to be a symbol of trust and a reputable Travel Agency. You can check if an Agency is a member of ABTA and obtain more information on ABTA by clicking this link.
What is ATOL?
ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers Licensing and is managed by the CAA (The Civil Aviation Authority). All reputable tour operators are members of the ATOL scheme and this ensures financial protection and an entitlement to repatriation should the supplier cease trading. You can get more information from the CAA website which is also a good source of advice should you ever be unfortunate enough that your holiday is cancelled due to supplier failure.
Airlines and Financial Protection
There is currently no legal requirement for an airline to have financial protection in the UK and this is a bone of contention in the Travel Industry. It may surprise you to know that large airlines such as British Airways and Easyjet do not have an ATOL or offer any form of financial protection to clients booking directly with them. If financial protection is important to you, we recommend booking your flights through a trusted Travel Agent who can ensure that supplier failure financial protection is in-place on your flight booking, whoever the airline is.
Do I need to Pay with a Credit Card to Ensure My Holiday is Protected?
Paying with a personal credit card will mean you are entitled to a refund under the Consumer Credit Act in the event of supplier failure. Many debit cards also provide this protection now too (check with your bank) and paying by debit card can save you paying credit card fees.
However, a word of warning!! If you book separate elements e.g. flights and hotel separately, you would only be able to claim a refund on the element not provided. If for example the airline ceased trading, you would be able to claim this money back on your credit card but you would be unlikely to get the money back for the hotel element of your booking. The other thing to consider is that if the airline went out of business while you are abroad, it is not the responsibility of the CAA or anyone else to get you home. So whilst you may get a refund on your flight cost, you may then have to pay a much higher price to fly home and may also incur costs for extra nights' accommodation depending on when the next available flight is.
Booking a Package Holiday
If you book a package holiday with an ABTA bonded Travel Agent which is with an ATOL protected tour operator your entire holiday will have full financial protection and you will have no need to worry about getting home in the event of a problem (e.g. Volcanic Ash etc...) as it is the tour operators responsibility to repatriate you.
Voyager Travel Direct & Financial Protection
Voyager Travel Direct are an ABTA bonded Travel Agency. We plan on being around for a long time but you can rest assured that if the worst should happen, our ABTA protection will ensure your money is safe. We act as agents for ATOL protected tour operators - this means that every package holiday we sell is with an ATOL protected tour operator and you will not only have total financial protection but can also be confident that you will be looked after in the event of a problem.