The Civil Aviation Authority – CAA – expects that two million of us will book holidays in January. But will our holidays be protected if the tour operator goes bust?
Posts Tagged ‘ ATOL ’
From today ATOL certificates are handed out to anyone booking ATOL protected holidays. The short answer to the question about what happens if you don’t given a certificate by your travel agent is that you probably aren’t covered in case of a problem. But ask and check.
Last Monday the new regulations for bonding came into force. Now a report from MP’s on the Transport Select Committee welcomes what has been introduced but says it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, in some places, the report is very critical of the government.
Tthe new user-friendly pages from the CAA provide advice before and during your flight as well as what to do if something isn’t up to scratch!
The familiar slogan goes, “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it.” Regardless of what you think of the viability of Thomas Cook – or even TUI or any other ATOL bonded travel company- you can still book confident in the fact that your money, if not your holiday, is as protected as it could be.
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.
For longer than I care to remember, CD-Traveller has covered complaints, suggestions, conversations and proposals about reform the bonding system we have in place to help those who, through no fault of their own, are left in the wet and sticky when their tour operator or holiday company goes bust.
Yesterday the transport minister, Theresa Villiers, announced reforms to the way holidays are bonded. Or rather she announced what the government proposed to do subject to consultation. After that, and provided there aren’t suggestions, watered down ideas or whatever, the legislation will come in until the end of the year.
Barely a week into the new year and we have our first travel company collapse. Diamond Holidays of Swansea have collapsed after over 40 years in business. Don’t get confused. There are 2 other similarly named companies and they are completely unaffected. It is only the company based in Swansea that has gone into administration. Already though, I have heard of two companies who have expressed interest in buying them. It is early in the year for any tour operators to go bust; they normally last through this key booking period to see how sales go so this is unusual. If you have holidays or day trips booked with them how will you fare since they hold no ATOL bond?
Yesterday CD-Traveller covered the forecasts of ABTA for the coming year. As a change and since everyone else is forecasting (dreaming of what might be might be a better expression), I thought we would as well. Before that, however, let me wish you a happy new year. May 2011 bring all you wish for it because it certainly isn’t going to give me what I should like.
But let’s start with a quick review of the year – or at least from the point-of-view of the traveller.
As you all know by know, there is a bonding system for holidays called ATOL. To remind you, the idea behind it is that if you buy from someone who is ATOL bonded, your holiday should be covered in the event that the tour operator goes bust. You will get your money back (but it might take a while) but not a replacement holiday. The problem with the system is that if you book your accommodation and flight separately you may not be covered.
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.
What is the purpose of an airport regulator?
To make money? To manage the interests of our airports? Or the airlines? To control over-zealous ideas and practices? To make sure passengers fly safely?
I sometimes wonder.
Yesterday the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, announced that he was giving additional powers to the Civil Aviation Authority. (CAA) But this time the power is to look out for the passenger. Hammond said, “…the CAA’s primary duty will be to promote the interests of existing and future passengers.”
With decent weather over much of our countries last weekend it looked as though things were set fare for a while. In the space of one week, we have had winds and heavy rain and then, to top it off, Goldtrail Holidays (which also used the name Sunmar) went bust yesterday evening leaving 16,000 abroad. Now it also seems that there may be a strike at all BAA airports (Heathrow, Stanstead, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen) during August.
CD-Traveller has frequently argued for wider consumer protection. In the wake of Globespan in 2009 and XL in 2008 (see CD-Traveller 14 Sept, 26 Nov, 17 Dec 2009), you might have hoped or expected that such high profile events might have stimulated some change. No, the EU prepared a document and sent it for consultation. The then government said it was an EU issue and we are no further forward. Yet we have had 11 cases of companies going bust this year.
Regular readers can stop reading right now if they don’t want to hear me talk again about providing an adequate safety net for passengers outside the ATOL bonding scheme.
As you probably all know by now, those passengers who bought a package holiday under the Globespan name are probably protected under the ATOL system. Those of you who bought just a flight with a credit card (not a debit card)and paid more than £100 may be able to claim a refund from the credit card providers. The rest of you, I’m afraid, will probably be out of pocket. And for those of you who are covered then you still have the hassle and probable expense of rebooking with another carrier if there is availability. To check your position, see www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1985&pagetype=90.
The collapse of the Globespan group will hit Scotland particularly badly.
In Ireland, Budget Travel is the tour operator. At one point, it carried over a third of all Irish holidaymakers who went abroad which probably amounted to over 400,000 people per year. On Wednesday evening they called in the liquidators.
As in the UK, there is a bonding system operated by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) so most, if not all of the money put down by holidaymakers will be protected.
Those of you who have paid deposits or have fully paid need to download an 8 page claim form which can be found at www.aviationnreg.ie. On the website, click on the release about Budget Travel and the click on claim.
Starting today, the EU will consult with the travel industry over the next 8 weeks before coming up with new proposals on giving greater protection to travellers.
A spokesman from TUI (the owners of Thomson and First Choice) said this week that if a bird swims, quacks, waddles and looks like a duck then it must be a duck. The courts think otherwise. Most of you will never have heard of a company called Travel Republic but the result of a court action against it by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) might actually help travellers with better consumer protection for our flights and holidays.
From tomorrow, 1st November, EU regulations come into place banning hiding taxes and extra charges when they advertise their flights. Theorectically if a flight is advertised at £1 that is what it should cost you. In practice I suspect that won’t happen due to choices that you will have to opt-out of such as priority boarding, insurance as well as charges for using debit or credit cards. But it should include the appropriate taxes so unless there is a sale on, you probably won’t see
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