UK holidaymakers urged to pack peace of mind by checking for ATOL protection before booking trips abroad

Date: 07 January 2014

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today warning holidaymakers looking to secure a deal in the January sales to check their booking is ATOL protected to avoid being left out of pocket or stranded abroad.

New research released today shows that around 12.5 million UK holidaymakers will be searching for summer deals this month in what is traditionally the biggest holiday-booking period of the year. Last year, 2.8 million people booked ATOL protected holidays in January, but there are concerns many holidaymakers could book unprotected trips in their rush to secure a good deal.

The CAA runs the ATOL scheme to ensure consumers are protected against the risk of their travel company going bust. Today’s research shows young people (16-24 year-olds) are particularly at risk, with one in twelve experiencing the collapse of a travel firm, airline, tour operator or hotel whilst abroad – more than double the average. Holidaymakers who book an ATOL protected holiday are fully covered if anything happens to their travel company, but those without ATOL protection may well have to make their own arrangements.

As expected, today’s research confirms the most common factor people think about when booking holidays is price, while one in six admit they often book holidays in haste to get a cheap deal without much background research. The CAA is now urging holidaymakers to double check they’ll get an ATOL certificate with their booking this January, to confirm their trip is fully protected.

Richard Jackson, Group Director for Consumer Protection at the CAA, said:
“Millions of people will be looking to make the most of the many holiday deals that are out there this month, but it’s really important that they look beyond the price and check for ATOL protection too.

“ATOL gives you the peace of mind that you won’t lose your money and will get home safely even if your travel company goes bust. Without protection you could be left out of pocket or stranded abroad, so always check you’ll get an ATOL certificate when booking your holiday, so you can be sure you’re covered.”

Between 2011/12 and 2012/13 over 14,000 ATOL protected holidaymakers were repatriated to the UK after their holiday company collapsed, with 69,000 people eligible for refunds.

The last ATOL protected company to collapse was Essex-based Ola Holidays in November 2013, with around 500 customers abroad and further 2,000 forward bookings affected. Thanks to the ATOL scheme, all of the company’s customers who were abroad could continue their holiday and return home safely, whilst the CAA also ensured those with forward bookings could go ahead with their original holiday plans without losing any money.

More information about the ATOL scheme is available from www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk.

For more information contact the CAA press office on: 020 7453 6030.

Follow the CAA on Twitter at @UK_CAA Follow ATOL on Twitter at < href=http://www.twitter.com/packpeaceofmind>@packpeaceofmind

Notes to Editors

1. The research released today was commissioned by the CAA and carried out by Opinion Matters between: 29/11/2013 and 04/12/2013. The research is based on a sample of 2,036 UK adults.
2. Key findings of the research include:
• 25% will be booking/researching their summer holiday in January
• 5% have lost a holiday (at the last minute) following the collapse of a travel firm / airline / tour operator / hotel
• 63% say the cost of a holiday is their main consideration
3. Run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority on behalf of the Government, ATOL covers the traditional package holiday, some individual flights and holidays known by the industry as ‘Flight-Plus’. A ‘Flight-Plus’ booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are requested within a day of each other.
4. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its regulatory activities range from making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards to preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency.