As schools begin the academic year and consider organising school trips for 2019/20, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is warning parents and teachers to check any overseas trips for students are ATOL protected before booking.

The Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme financially protects package trips and, without it, parents could be left substantially out of pocket or their children stranded abroad if their travel company were to cease trading. The UK CAA is aware of cases where parents have lost up to £750 each when their travel company ceased trading, all because the booking was not ATOL protected.

Specialist travel providers have made it easier than ever to book trips that are suited to the needs of the passengers, school trip bookings being no exception. However, with specialist travel companies it is much more important to verify their legitimacy and ensure that any claims of being ATOL protected are verified by searching for them on our website.

Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said:

“We are aware of some companies operating in niche markets to sell educational trips without providing ATOL protection. At worst, these companies use this to illegally sell packages with the intention of disappearing with the money, leaving schools, teachers and parents out of pocket.

“Without ATOL protection, even if the travel company does successfully organise a package trip, students could be left in vulnerable positions. It is vital that schools ensure they are booking an ATOL protected package and that all aspects of their booking are protected.”

The UK CAA has a dedicated webpage for schools considering booking overseas trips for their students, with helpful advice on how to be safe and responsible when considering travel companies.

Notes to Editors:

The Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) scheme provides financial protection in the event of an ATOL protected travel company ceasing to trade.  The scheme also ensures that youngsters can return home and their parents or carers do not lose money.

Anyone can check to see if an operator has an ATOL licence online at http://www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk/ where they can also find more information about how the scheme works.

Dedicated web page - https://www.caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection/Consumers/Guidance-for-the-education-sector/