It happens very rarely, but in the wake of Covid-19 tour operators and flight companies have suffered financially. However, there are ways to protect yourself by ensuring the company you have booked with is ATOL protected, and making sure you have added protection of booking on a credit card, which provides an extra layer of security. The CAA will give you advice and guidance if you find yourself in this situation
What is ATOL?
If a travel business with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects consumers who had booked holidays with the firm. It will support consumers currently abroad and provide financial reimbursement for the cost of replacing parts of an ATOL protected package.
The scheme is designed to reassure consumers that their money is safe, and will provide assistance in the event of a travel business failure.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is responsible for: the regulation of aviation safety in the UK; determining policy for the use of airspace; the economic regulation of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports; the licensing and financial fitness of airlines; and the management of the ATOL financial protection scheme for holidaymakers.
What do I do if the company goes bust whilst I’m on holiday?
(Please note this has been taken directly from the CAA website for clarity.)
For those ATOL protected consumers abroad, the CAA (Civil aviation Authority) need to find out whether they are likely to have any problems staying in their holiday accommodation. If, for example, the ATOL package organiser had not made payments for accommodation, it is possible that consumers will not be able to continue their stay; they may be asked to pay for the accommodation themselves.
The CAA works to avoid consumer inconvenience and distress by contacting accommodation suppliers of the failed ATOL holder and making the necessary arrangements to ensure consumers can complete their stay and link up with their return flights. If an accommodation supplier insists on payment from consumers, the CAA will usually advise the consumer to make a claim for these costs.
Subject to circumstances, the UK Civil Aviation Authority may arrange replacement flights for travellers currently abroad.
The UK CAA checks to make sure return flights will operate as planned. If there is no disruption to flights, consumers will be able to continue their trip and check in for their flight as originally planned.
If return flights do not operate as planned, the CAA may arrange replacement flights, and provide information on there website and social media sites regarding new flights, including flight times and destination airports.
If the CAA are not able to arrange replacement flights, consumers may need to find alternative transportation home. The CAA will publish information on this, as well as guidance on how to complete an ATOL claims form for the cost of replacement flights.
Credit Card Bookings
Booking on a credit card also gives you added legal protection if your holiday company goes bust or doesn’t deliver on what it promises. If you use your credit card to buy something such as goods or a holiday costing over £100 and up to £30,000, you’re covered by ‘section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act. This means the credit card company has equal responsibility (or ‘liability’) with the seller if there’s a problem with the things you’ve bought or the company you’ve bought them from fails.