• Some travel firms based in other European countries are now selling flight inclusive holidays in the UK without ATOL protection. Before making a booking with a firm which does not hold an ATOL, you should consider the issues set out below.

    Information on Low Cost Travel Group

    Advice for people who have bookings with Lowcostholidays.

    What happens when there is no ATOL?

    Travel firms established in other countries within Europe are not required by law to hold an ATOL when they sell flight-inclusive holidays in the UK. (Europe in this instance means countries in the European Economic Area.) However, under European legislation, travel firms selling package holidays within the EU must provide financial protection to consumers. In these circumstances, the consumer must go to the protection authority of the country in which the business is based for that protection. Not all countries operate comprehensive protection schemes and in some cases financial protection will be more limited than ATOL. If your holiday is not ATOL protected, the CAA will not be able to assist you and you will need to deal with the protection authority of that European country.

    Travel firms based outside Europe, for example those based in the USA, are required to hold an ATOL in order to sell flight inclusive holidays to the UK.

    What are the risks?

    Booking a holiday without financial protection or with limited financial protection puts your holiday and your money at risk.

    You could be left out of pocket with no holiday or even stranded abroad if your travel firm collapses while you are abroad. The standard of financial protection offered by European countries other than the UK is variable and although some provide protection that is comparable to the UK, others do not. The following are issues that might arise.

    Find and pay for your own way home If your travel firm collapses while you are on holiday, you may need to make your own arrangements to get home. If your return flights cost more than the price you originally paid, you are unlikely to be able to reclaim the difference. Red Traffic Light
    Pay again for your hotel Even if you paid your travel firm in full before departing on your holiday, it is likely that your holiday accommodation owner will not have been paid by your travel firm and will demand, during your stay, that you pay a second time. Red Traffic Light
    Delays in getting money back If your travel firm collapses before you travel, you will want to reclaim any money you have paid and you may need to make a claim from the protection authority of the country in which the travel business was based. Claims for repatriation costs or refunds may have to be made through a Court in that country, which can take many months or over a year. Red Traffic Light
    Limited refund In some cases, the funds available for protection may total less than the claims of all a collapsed travel firm's customers, meaning you may not receive a full refund. In European countries where there is no protection scheme in place, you are unlikely to receive any refund. Red Traffic Light

    How do I check my protection?

    Any UK customers booking trips with European firms without ATOL protection should consider the advice below before making a booking.

    Check for ATOL If an ATOL logo is shown on their website, check this is correct by checking the name and ATOL number on our 'Check an ATOL' facility. ATOL provides comprehensive protection. Amber Traffic Light
    Is there equivalent protection

    If it does not hold an ATOL, check whether there is any other financial protection available to UK consumers through another country’s scheme. Some travel firms’ websites include general protection statements but do not provide any specific information on how the arrangements work in practice for UK customers. If financial protection is provided by the protection authority in another country, the CAA strongly advises that:

    • You look for evidence that protection will be provided to UK consumers
    • You check the level of protection in place to ensure it will refund all affected consumers' claim(s) in full; and
    • Establish what the practical steps are for submitting a claim.
    Amber Traffic Light
    Should I book If financial protection is not provided, is limited or not detailed we advise you to carefully consider the risks before making a booking. Amber Traffic Light

    Why should you book an ATOL protected holiday with an ATOL holder?

    For many of us, price and quality are important things when booking a holiday but it is also essential to know that if something goes wrong, you will get the following protection when you book with an ATOL holder:

    Table Arrow 1. Practical assistance to continue your holiday and return home. Green Traffic Light
    Table Arrow 2. A full refund of money paid for holidays not received. Green Traffic Light
    Table Arrow 3. A simple, direct and easy to follow claims process. Green Traffic Light

    ATOL provides you with this comprehensive financial protection when you book with an ATOL holder and are issued with a valid ATOL Certificate. Information on the terms of the ATOL scheme are set out on the ATOL Certificate but in short the scheme ensures that if you are on holiday at the time the ATOL holder fails, the CAA will arrange for you to be looked after in resort and returned to the UK at the end of your holiday with no additional cost to you. If the ATOL holder goes bust before your holiday starts, you will be able to claim a full refund from the CAA for the cost of your holiday.

    When you book an ATOL protected trip, you will immediately receive an ATOL Certificate from the ATOL holder. If you do not get an ATOL Certificate, in the first instance ask the ATOL holder why not, and if they still do not produce an ATOL Certificate please contact the CAA ATOL team. The ATOL Certificate is important because it is your evidence of your financial protection and tells you who to contact if your travel firm collapses.

    Can I protect myself by other means?

    Many consumers may choose to consider protection from other sources such as travel insurance or credit cards but you should not assume that you will be protected by these methods. Many insurance policies do not include this protection or may be subject to terms and exclusions. Always check with your insurance or credit card provider before making a booking.