Who Should You Book A Holiday With?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

After the collapse of Blue Skies Destinations, (yesterday) Goldtrail, Flight Options (the owners of Kiss) and Sun4You in almost as many weeks and following on XL, Globespan and Libra, one of the common questions is can I trust my tour operator to still be around when I go on holiday? Who should I book with? Does anyone offer full protection?
As with most things in this world nothing is certain but here are some thoughts.
Any tour operator can experience problems. No-one foresaw the volcanic ash issue where airspace was closed for a week. So there will never be clear answers in answering these questions. The largest tour operators such as TUI Group, (owners of Thomson, First Choice, Crystal, JWT and 2wentys amongst others) and Thomas Cook (owners of Airtours, Club 18-30, Neilson, Panorama and Direct amongst others) are so big and so international now that it would very surprising if anything happened. But about 20 years ago, one of the largest tour operators of the time, ILG, went bust. Before that there was Court Line.
What about smaller companies then since some people are saying that you should stick with the big companies? If your preferred tour operator is one of the 140 who are members of AITO (the logo will be emblazoned on their brochures and websites) then you are fully protected. By fully protected they mean that if you just book the accommodation with them, that is covered as well as a package holiday and that exceeds the government bonding ATOL scheme.
Even if you do get your money back there are two things to realise. The first is that it could take some time and secondly, if you book a replacement holiday it is likely to cost more so chances are you will still be out of pocket. The best advice is book with an ATOL bonded company and pay on a credit card rather than cheque or debit. If the company is not ATOL bonded, then a credit card payment will give some protection.
Regular readers will know how many times we have urged better bonding to cover all aspects of a holiday and still the UK, Republic of Ireland and EU governments have got nowhere but talk and consult.
As we wrote last week, it is unusual for companies to go bust in peak holiday time. That suggests there will be more to come in September when money tightens for tour operators. In the meantime, the size of your holiday company doesn’t necessarily matter. Whether it is bonded does. And you can check that at http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=490&pagetype=65&appid=2

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