Financial Protection

 By: Kieron Sellens
Financial and Holiday Protection

“ATOL protected”. You hear it at the end of radio ads; you see it in the copy on flyers and in newspapers. It’s a brand name, and it could be argued that it is the best around because it has such successful and almost infectious marketing. However, there are other companies providing travel protection. We take a look at the various travel protection brands and to see which is the best for you...

What does ATOL and ABTA protected mean?

ATOL and ABTA (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing and the Association of British Travel Agents) are possibly the most well known names in financial travel protection. But what exactly does each offer?

ATOL is based upon a license granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), an organisation founded by the government to regulate airlines and tour operators who sell package holidays which include a flight. You are NOT covered by ATOL if your airline fails and you had booked directly with the airline. Protection IS offered if you booked your flight through an agent or tour operator, but you are advised to confirm this at the time of booking. Furthermore if you booked a holiday through a tour operator that does not involve flights (e.g. you chose to travel by ferry, rail or coach etc...) this will NOT be protected by ATOL.

ABTA tour operators provide financial protection for the majority of situations. However they do not have to provide protection when only a single element is booked, e.g. ‘accommodation only’. In this case it is left at the individual operator’s discretion. Because of this, ABTA affiliation does not mean ‘complete protection’. ABTA travel agents offer financial protection against their own failure but do not guarantee protection against all the land arrangements that they sell.

What is AiTO travel protection?

The Association of Independent Tour Operators, or AiTO, is an organisation of specialist independent operators which also offer holiday protection. AiTO has its own financial protection scheme for travel customers, and ensures that any holiday booked through an AiTO tour operator is 100% protected.

AiTO travel protection ensures that should one of its tour operators go out of business for any reason at all, its customers are covered. One of two things will happen; depending on the dates involved, customers will either get a full refund, or they will still be able to go on their holiday.

Some holidays that are ABTA or ATOL protected can be on cheap flights and last minute deals. Is AiTO the same?

Many holidays booked online with no-frills airlines may not be ATOL or ABTA protected. As AiTO is made up of bonded tour operators, customers are covered as soon as they book with AiTO members. Many AiTO members can book no frills carriers meaning the flight is covered as well. In this situation customers won’t be stranded either at home or abroad if the airline goes under; as long as they have booked their holiday through an AiTO operator, they will be covered.
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