How to Protect your Holiday

By Rosalind Kent

rosalind2.jpgIn the current shaky financial climate it seems that nearly every day you turn on the news and find that another company has gone bust, another big bank is failing and people are hiding their savings under the mattress.  Amongst many of the big business ventures who are failing are airlines. Since the credit crunch really hit us there has been plenty of news coverage of passengers turning up at the airport to find that their flights are not just cancelled, but the airline has gone bust. So, what are you rights when this happens? The disappointment and upset of losing your holiday, and your money, are the first things you think of. But when you are back at home and you are over the worst of the disappointment, what do you do next? Will you ever see a penny of your hard earned money again? Who can you go to for help? Booking a holiday or trip abroad should be exciting and fun, but it can be a worrying experience!

Knowing the ‘right’ way to book seems to be at the root of protecting your money. A package holiday – whereby all elements of the holiday are booked together through a tour operator or travel agent – is the safest way to do it. There are regulations that hold the tour operator responsible if the airline goes bust. They also cover you if you arrive at the holiday and it is overbooked, or the hotel is a building site ten miles from the beach when it was supposed to be a luxury oasis ten metres from the beach. All tour operators in the UK must be ATOL protected (you can easily check by looking the company up on the Civil Aviation Authority website) and this will give you financial protection. Take care to make sure that you are really booking a ‘package’ holiday. Some websites allow you to put together your own holiday and pay with a single payment, but this does not make it a ‘package’ holiday and you may not be protected, so check carefully!

Unfortunately if you have taken the initiative and booked over the internet direct with the airline, you are in a less enviable position. There is little protection for the independent traveller and you will probably not see your money again if the airline goes bust. A lot of people think that travel insurance covers them in this instance, but many policies don’t. Your best hope if you want to keep the freedom to book your own holiday is to use your credit card. If you pay for all, or part, of the holiday by credit card and the airline goes bust, there is legislation in place that means your credit card company must pay out.

Don’t let the possible pitfalls of the current financial climate stop you from going on that much needed holiday. If you are worried, or if you have already experienced any of these problems, then help is at hand. Even if you just want some clarification on what exactly is covered on your holiday then give your local Trading Standards office a call, or visit   

By Rosalind Kent-