UK and European law requires travel businesses to financially protect their packages holidays in the countries in which they are established. Businesses based in the UK who sell flight inclusive package provide their protection under the ATOL scheme while those based in other European Member States provide their own financial protection schemes. Travel businesses are required to tell you which country will be responsible for financially protecting your booking. You should consider the issues set out below:
Travel businesses established in other countries within European Economic Area (EEA) are not required by law to hold an ATOL when they sell flight-inclusive holidays in the UK. However, under European legislation, travel businesses 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. The protection provided in these countries should be every bit as comprehensive as ATOL protection but bear in mind that there may be some difference to ATOL, such as the provision of repatriation flights where if you were affected you may have to repay for new flights and claim them back at a later date. 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 businesses based outside of the EEA, for example those based in the USA, are required to hold an ATOL’s in order to sell flight inclusive holidays to the UK.
Any UK consumers booking trips with European businesses without ATOL protection should consider the advice below before making a booking.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 businesses’ websites include general protection statements but do not provide any specific information on how the arrangements work in practice for UK consumers. 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.
If your travel firm collapses while you are on holiday, you may need to make your own arrangements to get home and then claim these back from the protection authority. If your return flights cost more than the price you originally paid, you are unlikely to be able to reclaim the difference.
Any consumers may choose to consider protection from other sources such as credit cards but you should not assume that you will be protected by these methods. Always check with your credit card provider before making a booking
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