As millions prepare to leave for even more sun on their summer holidays this week, the CAA forecasts that this year's busiest single day for flights departing UK airports will be July 27th with 8,841 flights.
CAA research has also revealed that millions of UK holiday-makers will leave booking their annual break until just days before they plan to jet off, with one in ten people questioned in a survey admitting bagging a last-minute package holiday.
While many of these travellers will have secured their summer holidays months in advance and be well prepared for any hiccups, the last-minute bargain hunters may well be in danger of overlooking their financial protection in their haste to secure their holidays.
Paul Smith, Director at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “The idea of grabbing a last-minute deal is of course very appealing, but it is worth spending some time to check your holiday bargain is ATOL protected. Having an ATOL certificate means that you are covered financially if your travel company goes bust - you will be able to get home at no extra cost and will not lose your hard-earned cash. Whenever you book your holiday, look for the ATOL logo to ensure you can fully enjoy your break.”
Over the last three years 38 ATOL protected travel companies ceased trading - but their customers continued their holidays or received full refunds if they were still to travel. Holiday-makers without ATOL protection are at risk of losing out if a company providing a part of their holiday goes bust.
TOP TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
Check for ATOL protection
You can always check if a travel company has ATOL protection, when booking a package holiday. Write down the company name and/or the ATOL number and then visit www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk. Enter the details into the 'Check an ATOL' database, which has a list of all ATOL registered companies.
Do your homework when booking a holiday
Not every holiday sold in the UK will be a package one, and so won't be ATOL protected. If you're booking a holiday without ATOL protection, do your research to understand what this could mean for you if your package organiser were to fail.
Think beyond the price
There are also alternatives to package holidays, called Linked Travel Arrangements (LTA's). You book an LTA if you select and pay for two travel services for the same trip separately. You can book the second service immediately after the first or up to 24 hours after. Think separate selection, separate payment. They can work out cheaper than a package holiday as they only provide cover in limited situations but won't have ATOL protection. If booking an LTA, you may decide to take out additional travel insurance to cover the risk of a company failing which is likely to mean paying extra.
Take your ATOL certificate with you
You must receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you pay any money towards an ATOL protected holiday. The certificate confirms what is protected, which company is responsible for your holiday booking (it may not be the company you are booking with directly) and what to do if the company ceases trading. Whether you print out the certificate or have a digital version with you, it's important to take your certificate with you.
Use a credit card and take out good medical and travel insurance
If you are booking your holiday through a number of travel operators, this will not be ATOL protected, so remember to pay with a credit or debit card. These cards provide some protection if the goods and services you've booked are not delivered, for instance if one of the travel operators fails, but may not cover consequential losses. And make sure you have travel insurance, which will cover medical costs and other potential expenses such as damage or loss of any possessions you take with you.
For more information on the ATOL scheme visit www.packpeaceifmind.com