Government announces ATOL Reforms

By | Category: Travel rumblings

One of the worst kept secrets was finally let out of the bag today when the Department of Transport published its thoughts on the future of ATOL, the scheme which protects holidaymakers from their suppliers going bust and leaving them stranded either before or during their holiday.
Just to remind you, if an agent is ATOL bonded and you buy a package (flight and accommodation) then you are covered. If you buy a flight separately from the accommodation generally you are not.
What’s being proposed should mean that another 6 million “holidays” should be protected by the scheme. The main part is that “flight-plus” holidays comprising a flight and other holiday component bought within two successive days be covered. The word “component” was listed in the singular so does this mean just one component, any component or all provided they are bought within two days? And does two days mean two working days where the supplier is open two days in a row? What happens if the travel agent isn’t open on one of the two days? Does that mean we only have really one day to complete the purchase so that we are covered? We’ll do some checking and see.
The other two parts are not so vital. The first is that all purchases get an ATOL certificate saying what the coverage is and the other is that the supplier is made aware of their legal responsibilities.
We, along with many other organisations, have been calling for a change to protect more holidaymakers and travellers. The government is going to ask industry for its views and they have up until September to reply. Then they expect to introduce legislation in January 2012 so that it will apply to the peak summer period. That sounds ambitious given how slowly things go through parliament but let’s be optimistic and hope they can achieve their aim.
There is no plan – yet – to bring in a scheme to cover just flights but this could come in the future.

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