Financially protecting your Trip 2019 update
Holiday Trip Payment Protection.
In the wake of the Thomas Cook financial crash in September 2019, you may be worried about going away in case the same thing happens to your travel company. Find out here about your Holiday trip payment protection options. How do you protect your trip from unforeseen circumstances; what choices do you have you have?
Information From Reliable Sources
There’s lots of information posted online about Trip payment protection. A lot of it is confusing. I’ve taken the best of these articles and dissected the information from the most reliable sources. There are links at the end where you can see information is backed up by Long term experts
Holiday trip payment protection blog post covers the following:
- Intro to ATOL and ABTA
- ATOL general Information
- Package holidays and ATOL protection
- Flight plus Holidays and ATOL Protection
- Click Through holiday bookings and ATOL Protection
- Linked Travel Arrangements and ATOL Protection
- Benefits of having ATOL Protection
- Flight Only Bookings
- ABTA Trip Protection Payment
- Building your own Trip using separate components
- Travel Insurance
- use of credit card as Holiday Trip Payment Protection
- use of debit card as Holiday Trip Payment Protection
- Summary of Holiday Trip Payment Protection Article
- Links to sources used for this article
ATOL and ABTA
ATOL and ABTA are topics that are covered a lot online. Both these have plenty of conflicting, confusing information written about them. I’ve looked at the best articles I can find online and tried to sort out the facts here
Neither ATOL and ABTA are ‘Trip Protection Payment Plans’ that you take out separately when you book a trip. The high street travel agent or online booking agent either possess one or both of these licences or they don’t. And if the company you choose to book with does have the licence, there are still rules you have to follow in order to be covered by them
Generally speaking ATOL protection relates to flights; ABTA protection is a code of conduct and relates to accommodation bookings. Although ABTA protection legally requires that you are brought home if things go wrong when you are abroad. So technically there is a bit of a cross over of the two.
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ATOL: Trip Payment Protection
ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers Licencing. ATOL is a government-run financial protection scheme operated and managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The scheme is designed to protect flights and air-based holidays.
Just because you see the ATOL protection logo on a website don’t automatically assume the website offers you ATOL trip payment protection. Check the company out at the Civil Aviation’s website to be sure they are bona-fida
Enter the company name and licence number to see if they’re genuine
If your holiday provider holds an ATOL licence, they’ll be able to provide you with your ATOL certificate once you’ve booked your trip. It can be at the shop, or through the wesite via email. Check with whichever agent you book with that you will get an your certificate if you’re expecting one before paying.
Guidelines for booking an ATOL protected Trip
Asides form the company holding a genuine ATOL licence, you have to follow certain protocol to be ATOL protected.
The trip has to be purchased in the UK and consist of two components. One MUST BE A FLIGHT and the other component can either be accommodation or car hire. Both components have to be booked with the same company or on the same website. They must also be booked within a certain time frame to qualify for ATOL protection. These are the basic rules when it comes to being covered by ATOL trip payment protection
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Only package holidays qualify for ATOL protection
Package holidays have always offered the best form of protection as far as ATOL legislation goes and still do. All travel firms selling air-based holiday packages must by law have an ATOL licence. Packages are the only category of holidays that can get ATOL protection.
Tui, the high street and online agent is a solid example of a company providing package holidays. Traditionally the flight and the holiday are booked together at the same time.
Recent laws have changed how a package holiday is defined
A new law introduced on July 1st 2018 means ATOL protects your trip beyond the formal, standard package holiday. This works in the consumer’s favour; you just have to know the right way of booking your trip
CHANGES IN THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM ‘PACKAGE HOLIDAY’ WORKS TO CONSUMERS ADVANTAGE
What has changed since July 1st 2018 is the legal definition of the word ‘package’. You, the consumer now have more options of how you can book a package holiday. You do need to be clear on these options though if you want to be sure of ATOL protection
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‘Flight Plus holidays’ and ‘click through’ trips are now defined as package holidays too. For a holiday to fall under either of these terms and therefore be ‘ATOL’ protected, it must be booked in a certain manner and timeframe
Explanation of how to book a flight + holiday
A flight plus holiday sometimes called an air-based holiday, is a flight booking plus either an accommodation booking or a car hire booking. You have to book both components within a certain timeframe and in a certain way to be defined as a package holiday. Look for travel websites giving the ‘flight plus accommodation’ or ‘flight plus hotel’ option as well as ‘packages’ in the menu bar at the top of the home page.
Guidelines for the manner a ‘flight plus holiday’ should be booked in
Besides the company holding a valid ATOL licence and one of the components of the package holiday being a flight, other criteria to be ATOL protected are:
- The holiday components have to be booked with the same company to get ATOL protection
- The flight and hotel components of the holiday must be booked through the same travel agent or website agent.
- The Tui example above is an example of an agent selling packages. Easyjet also enables you to book a package holiday all at once under the ‘holidays’ section on the top menu of their website.
- All holiday components must be booked together at the same time OR within 24 hours of each other to qualify for ATOL protection
An example of booking a flight plus holiday
Booking .com has a flight plus hotel option on their main menu at the top of the page. Click this option on the menu bar. Choose a flight, pick your accommodation, click and pay. Hey presto, you’ve booked yourself a ‘Flight Plus’ holiday. Booking all holiday components simultaneously like this is probably the easiest way of saving time in getting ATOL protection
Booking.com is an agent that advertises and sells flights, accommodations etc on behalf of other companies and individuals. Within the package you purchase from them, The flight you buy off them may be from one company and the accommodation from another company. This is OK though in terms of ATOL protection. As long as the components are all booked from the same booking agent
In this example of booking your holiday package through Booking.com you have followed correct protocol for being ATOL protected. This is because
- Booking.com holds a valid ATOL licence when using their flight + hotel option
- You booked two trip components via the same holiday provider company/agent-booking.com
- You booked both components at the same time or within the allowed 24 hours
THERE ARE OTHER WAYS OF BOOKING WHEN YOU WILL STILL BE 100% ATOL PROTECTED
Example of booking a ‘Click-Through Package’
Imagine you just book your flight on The Travel Republic Website.
You open your flight booking confirmation Email from travelrepublic.co.uk. In the Email they have also provided a link to hotels they sell. You click on the link and have a quick look.
‘Wow, that hotel looks good value’ you think. That’s decided then ‘I’ll book this’ THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF A CLICK-THROUGH You weren’t going to book your accommodation yet but a hotel takes your fancy and you ‘click through’ to book it. Pay attention to the time-frame when booking your accommodation as an after-thought. That’s if you want your complete stay to be ATOL protected.
The ‘click Through’ is the type of holiday that you have to beware of the time-frame rules. That is if you want it to be protected by ATOL legislation
Importance of Timeframe when booking a ‘click-through’
When you booked your return flight to Majorca with Travel Republic online booking agent, it was advertised at a great price. You thought ‘I’ll get this now it may not be around tomorrow’ You intend to book your accommodation at a later date when you have got more time.
The thing is you can’t leave it too much later if you want to be covered by either ATOL.
Some internet posts say that the longest gap you can leave between booking your other travel component is just over a day. For example, they say if the flight is booked on Tuesday morning, the accommodation and/or car hire has to be booked by the end of Wednesday
Other information states that the two components have to be booked within 24 hours to qualify for ATOL protection. So lets err on the side of caution and stick to the strict 24 hour guideline to be on the safe side
IT DOESN’T MATTER IN WHICH ORDER YOU BOOKED YOUR TRAVEL COMPONENTS SO LONG AS ONE OF THE COMPONENTS IS A FLIGHT. It makes sense to book the flight first though. There’s no point booking the accommodation and afterwards finding there are no available flights to take you there.
If you book components separately, make sure your 2nd booking gets tied in with your first
If this is a real life scenario, phone up and make the second booking with someone personally over the phone. All reputable online agents selling Majorca holidays have a local rate number to call from the UK
The phone call or at least an email is necessary to make sure the website you booked your original travel component with, recognises you are making the 2nd booking with them. By using this ‘click through’ approach, your trip will be ATOL protected. In other words, it is classed as ‘package’ so make sure you get your certificate. Don’t lose your right to the protection just because you’ve not followed the timeframe guidelines.
Formal jargon found online states defines a click-through package as follows:
”A holiday is classed as a ‘click through’ package as long as the first service provider transmits the customer’s name, email address and payment details to the second provider and the second contract is concluded within 24 hours of the first contract”
NB Follow the above protocol and any subsequent bookings for excursions or attractions are also protected with the same website or high street store.
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Linked Travel Arrangement
If no transfer is made of the customer’s details between the first and second booking (as described in the ‘click through’ definition above), the booking is what’s known as a ‘Linked travel arrangement’
The formal definition of a ‘Linked Travel Arrangement
‘One trader facilitates the booking of the subsequent service(s). The purchase is made for the purpose of the same trip or holiday’
Confusing? Does this sound like the definition I’ve just given of a click-through?
The difference in this case is that the 2nd booking is not recognised by the first booking or visa versa and you have to re-enter your personal and payment details, your booking becomes a linked travel arrangement. This is why it’s best to phone up when you want to add a second booking to your first
Protection for ‘linked Travel Arrangements is slightly Different
The protection for Linked Travel Arrangements’ isn’t as strong as for ‘Click-Throughs’.
Linked Travel Arrangements aren’t covered by ATOL but do benefit from other insolvency protections. Thit means if a company that provides one of your holiday components from goes bust, you’ll get your money back for that component.
With linked holidays as opposed to package holidays, you only get financial protection. So you’re protected if the firm organising either of your trip component goes bust, but not if something else goes wrong.
If you’re confused with the differences between flight + holidays, click-through packages and linked travel arrangements, don’t worry it is confusing. It may help to keep in mind that booking.com is an agent. They sell holiday components on behalf of other companies. For instance, the flights you book via a company such as booking.com are supplied by air carriers such as EasyJet etc. Hotels sold on booking.com are supplied by lastminute.com
The articles by the legal experts can be just as baffling, especially unravelling all the legal jargon.
Have a look at the links at the foot of this post. Some articles I’ve read seem to give conflicting views between authors. I’ve just tried to relay the overall picture to you in my blog post here. The more you read around the subject, the clearer in your mind it may become!
Basically though, if you want guaranteed ATOL protection for your overall holiday package, stick to booking all components at the same time to keep things straightforward and to save later pitfalls. AND HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR ATOL CERTIFICATE WLILE YOU ARE AWAY.
Trip Companies are legally required to tell you what type of holiday you are buying
travel companies are legally obliged to provide you with precise information about the type holiday you’re buying. They must tell you up front if you’re buying a package holiday or a linked travel arrangement. Ask before you buy if they are not forth coming with this information. And get them to print you off the ATOL certificate or at least send it to you via Email
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What are the benefits of having Trip Payment Protection with ATOL
ATOL covers you for a full financial protection if the Tour Operator can’t fulfil its obligation.
ATOL trip Financial protection means you are entitled to a refund or to be brought home if your travel company organising your package goes out of business. You’re also protected if components of the holiday aren’t provided as advertised. If your holiday does not meet it’s description and your reasonable expectations you are entitled to alternative accommodation so you can continue to enjoy your holiday.
What ATOL Protection offers you if something goes wrong with your trip
- If the FCO advises against travel for all but essential trips, ATOL offers you a full refund or you can choose replacement travel on dates to suit you
- If bad weather means your holiday can’t happen, under ATOL legislation you’ll get a refund or can choose to reschedule
- If your Tour Company goes out of business you’ll be entitled to a full refund and repatriation under ATOL legislation.
Along with the above list, you are entitled to legal protection against problems that arise from your holiday.
NB ATOL Regulations only apply to packages/trips sold or offered for sale in the UK and that you book within the current ATOL guidelines
In the case of having to call on your ATOL Protection
Imagine just one part of the holiday goes bust, that is just the flight or just the accommodation provider. This means it’s NOT the agent that sold you the component on behalf of the airline carrier or accommodation you go to. In this case it is the holiday company or airline carrier you approach directly for your refund.
What happens if I have ATOL protection and the Holiday Company goes bust that I booked both my flight and accommodation with?
You go to the civil aviation authority for your repatriation. This applies only if there was no media evidence of this companies imminent administration at the time of booking.
The CAA will do everything possible to ensure you can finish and enjoy your trip without disruption.
If you have any difficulties while abroad, call the CAA on +44 (0) 333 103 6350. They will explain the situation and discuss your options.
Print and Take your ATOL certificate on holiday with you
Print your ATOL Certificate and take it on your trip with you. Make sure you read it to have an idea of the terms of your trip ‘s financial protection. Take any bank document showing payment or make sure you have access to internet banking.This way, if you get into any bother you have all the relevant documents that cover you to hand.
DOWNSIDES TO ATOL PROTECTION
You may need extra funds to see you through in terms of accommodation. You will get refunded eventually but it can take months to get a refund after you make your claim.
Also, the accommodation options in the ‘flight + hotel’ section of websites protected under the ATOL scheme are sometimes limited.
Thanks to the article below in the link that provided much information for the ATOL section of this post
Money Saving Expert’s take on ATOL
Tailor Making Holidays (Booking components separately)
Tailor Made Trips
If you book all of your travel arrangements separately, you’re unlikely to have any financial or legal protection under the 2018 package travel regulations that ATOL and ABTA provide.
Say You decide to mix and match your holiday components and book your flights and accommodation with different companies. Your holiday won’t be covered by ATOL or ABTA protection in this case.
Don’t let this put you off tailor making your trip. By all means use different websites to book flights, accommodation, car hire etc. Just make sure you read about how to
use your credit and debit cards correctly to offer you Holiday Trip Protection. This is so you will be entitled to money back should things go wrong.
Don’t let this put you off building your trip in your own way though. That is if a holiday that is more unique appeals to you. There is still a case for building your own Holiday Trip using separate components yet still having trip financial protection
You do still need to be aware of the hard facts though so read on
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Booking scheduled and chartered flights as separate components
Flight Only bookings
A scheduled flight is booked directly with the airline by the customer and your contract is with the airline. A scheduled flight is not covered automatically by ATOL protection
Booking a scheduled flight direct with the direct supplier or even through an agent
THERE ARE STILL SPECIFIC CLAUSES IN TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICIES YOU CAN BUY TO COVER YOUR MAJORCA TRIP FINANCIALLY or AS WELL AS BUYING THE CORRECT TRAVEL INSURANCE TO SUIT YOUR NEEDS, YOU CAN HAVE TRIP PAYMENT PROTECTION USING A CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD
You (the customer) buys your flight via the holiday company instead of the airline-it’s like an indirect booking. The booking agent reserves the aircrafts through the airline selling them on to their customers. Like when you book your flight via Travel Republic or Loveholidays.com. This is an example of a chartered flight booking
Chartered flights booked separately are sometimes covered under the ATOL scheme but you should always check because this is not an automatic thing
The flight you will have bought as part of your package trip, discussed earlier under the ATOL section will be a chartered flight. This is because you purchased it via a booking agent. You don’t have to worry in this case though. Because as already discussed, your package is covered under the ATOL scheme if you stuck to correct protocol when booking
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ABTA PROTECTION FOR YOUR MAJORCA TRIP PAYMENT
ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents
ABTA Trip Payment Protection
The ABTA scheme of financial protection is in place to protect you for land or sea based holiday. Land and sea based holidays include coach, train and cruise holidays rather than air-based holidays. These must be booked through a registered ABTA member
With ABTA protection, you are entitled to a full refund should your Tour Company seize to trade and cannot fulfil its obligation. If you are abroad, you will receive accommodation and transport costs for your journey home.
ABTA’s strict code of conduct
Whether the agent is on the high street or online, if they’re a member of ABTA they are bound to comply with the ABTA Code of Conduct, which ensures high service standards and fair terms of trading
Laws relating to your holiday’s trade description are the same as they’ve always been: travel companies are responsible for ensuring customers get the package holiday they paid for.
ABTA legislation was also revised on July 1st 2018 to cover and ‘click-throughs’ (click link for how to book)
what ABTA can do for you if your trip goes wrong
You will be offered an alternative or given a full or partial refund if something isn’t provided or as expected. Travel companies or suppliers must resolve the issue if it’s their fault.
Under the ABTA code a suitable alternative of accommodation must be offered if building works will seriously impair your holiday. This is instead of compensation.
Under ABTA if there are serious flight delays and you decide you don’t want to travel you are entitled to a financial refund. You are entitled to this anyway under EU legislation.
Some ABTA Members do protect their non-package sales such as accommodation-only sales but this is not a legal requirement. Check with your travel company what their stand on this is.
Companies are obliged under the ABTA scheme to tell you whether a holiday is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility if you request it, and precise information should be given about the suitability of the holiday for you (which should take into account your required needs)
Situations when you are automatically protected without ATOL or ABTA cover
Fortunately EU legislation introduced over the last few years, you’re entitled to a refund or alternative transport to your destination if your flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. This applies only to flights that set off from or land at an EU airport on an EU carrier. You should also be entitled to free meals and refreshments if you have been stranded somewhere whilst waiting for a delayed flight.
Other ways you can financially protect your trip if you don’t have either ATOL or ABTA Trip Protection
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Travel Insurance for Majorca Trip Payment Protection
Everyone should take out travel insurance before going abroad at least for health protection. Most travel insurance policy cover you for delays, cancellations and medical costs. But Policies DON’T automatically offer you financial trip payment protection if your Tour Operator or Travel Agent go out of business.
There are however policies that include specific clauses you need for trip payment protection.
The obvious clauses are airline failure insurance and holiday supplier failure. You do not always need to worry about this though.
Standalone airline failure insurance
As long as you’re flying within the EU (leaving/landing at an EU airport) EU regulations state you must be given compensation if a flight can’t go ahead due to the fault of the airline.
This is by no means always the case so read the small print of your airline provider
To find insurance companies providing airline failure insurance contact ABTA itself or contact dedicated holiday insurance provider such as protectmyholiday.com
Insurance Policy clauses you can add to your travel insurance
Cover for missed flights through no fault of your own (often called ‘missed departure’)
Cover for trip cancellation or put on hold due to strike action, a natural catastrophe
Cover for breakdown of your plane, train, coach, or bus
Take out Travel Insurance as soon as you book Majorca trip
One of the most important things to do regarding travel insurance is to buy it as soon as you have booked your trip. Otherwise if the company goes bust the day after you book, you won’t be covered in the event of supplier failure. This is because you failed to cover yourself before it happened.
Same goes if you get ill and can’t travel. If you hadn’t taken out appropriate insurance and then get ill you can’t claim off the insurance. Dates have to tie up when claiming off travel insurance
Marks and Spencer and Axa both offer Travel insurance Policies
Financial Protection when you build/put together your own trip
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Trip Payment Protection through use of Credit Card
It is not all doom and gloom. If your flight or accommodation isn’t covered by ATOL or ABTA, you can use
section 75 of the credit card consumer act to fall back on
If you have tailor made your Majorca trip using components from different websites separately, book directly with the flight/accommodation/car hire supplier rather than on a travel website that works on behalf of them.
For example, book directly with Easyjet, British Airways, Ryanair are all direct flight suppliers. Otherwise the section 75 clause may not cover your payment.
Majorca Trip Payment Protection when building and tailor-making your own trip
Only use section 75 if you aren’t covered under ATOL or ABTA or travel insurance. IT’S THE BEST COVER WHEN YOU’VE TAILOR MADE YOUR OWN MAJORCA HOLIDAY
Section 75 only covers your flight or accommodation if you book directly with the flight company or with the owner of the accommodation. This means not booking through a third party such booking agent selling the flight or accommodation on behalf of someone. Examples of a third party site is Expedia or Opodo
So in other words, if you have booked your trip through a ‘middle man’ (a travel or booking agent) make sure you’ve booked with an ATOL or ABTA protected agent. This will offer all the benefits discussed above offered by having their protections.
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Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Card Act
of the Consumer Credit Card Act states that Credit Card Firms are liable with retailers if something goes wrong. The clause covers single items that cost more than £100.
Supposing two of you are travelling to Majorca. Your outbound flights were £55 each and your return flights were £100 each. You stick the whole lot on your credit card for a total of £310. Unfortunately only the flights home are covered under this clause because each of these flights qualified for the refund under the £100 minimum spend rule
If you pay on credit card, don’t forget to pay it off in full at the end of the month if at all possible so you’re not charged interest. Otherwise your trip may end up costing you more
In this situation you would contact your bank to sort out the situation; your bank may contact you first if they recognise on your transactions that you booked a recent flight or hotel with a company that has just gone bust
Trip Payment Protection through use of Debit Card (chargeback system)
You still have a chance of getting money back for components of your trip less than £100, if you have paid by debit card.
Unlike Section 75 it’s not enshrined in law, but it’s a scheme most high street banks subscribe to (Mastercard or Visa debit most likely). That is if you spent less than £100 on a debit or credit card.
The chargeback scheme is a system that lets you ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your card where your bank gets cashback from the relevant companies processing bank
Claiming money back with your bank from spending on credit or debit card
Make a clear record of when you first heard about or discovered the administration. You have a deadline of 120 days to contact your bank and register your claim
You have no Trip Payment protection if you paid for your trip using cash, cheque, pre-paid card or bank transfer and if your ‘package’ isn’t covered by ATOL or ABTA
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Summing Up Majorca Trip Payment Protection blog post
Package Holidays continue offer the best Trip payment protection as far as ATOL and ABTA cover goes. Good news! Flight + holiday packages and ‘click throughs’ booked in the correct manner are now classed as packages too
Websites that provide both ATOL and ABTA protection are TUI and Travel Republic. There are plenty of others out there. Of course you have to book within the guidelines above to be covered by them.
ATOL and ABTA are not the only ways of getting Trip Payment Protection
If your trip isn’t ABTA or ATOL protected?
The clauses in your Travel insurance policy you need to look out for are ‘Airline Supplier Failure’ and ‘Holiday Supplier Failure’
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAILOR MAKE YOUR TRIP BY BOOKING INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR TRIP SEPARATELY!!
The mix and match approach can result in the best holidays-not following anyone else’s protocol but your own!
Just make sure you stick the right amounts of trip payments on the correct type of either credit or debit card. Or else have the right type of Travel Insurance
Don’t forget to choose which type of card to use depending on whether the amount you pay is over or under £100.00.This is in order to be covered appropriately by either section 75 of the Consumer Credit card Act or by the chargeback system.
Thanks to the articles in the link directly from which information was used for this post.
Reliable Sources for this article
Read More http://www.beforetravel.co.uk/holiday-booking-protection/