Date: 11/02/2016

How ABTA And ATOL Protect Your Holiday

Holidays are the highlight of the year for many people, and once the flights or packages have been booked, there's a great deal of excitement as you count down the days until you leave. For the vast majority of people, everything runs smoothly and they're soon at their chosen destination, but unfortunately, for a small minority, there can be issues with their booking that leave them out of pocket or stranded. That's why when you book a flight or holiday, whether it's online or through your local travel agent, it's important to look for ABTA or ATOL membership.

These schemes have been around for decades, but many travellers aren't aware of them until they need their help, so here's a brief overview of what they can offer.



ABTA stands for the Association of British Travel Agents, and most of the major online or high street agents will be members of this organisation. They mostly offer protection for people who book package holidays, so if you've booked your flights, accommodation, and extras in one place, they should be able to help. It also covers trips such as cruises and coach holidays that have been booked through ABTA.  About 90% of package holidays booked in the UK will be through one of its members.

Things that ABTA deal with include:

  • Providing financial protection for those who have booked holidays
  • Lobbying the government on various issues in the industry
  • Working with travel companies to ensure safety and high standards
  • Giving advice and resolving issues if things go wrong for travellers

Complaining through ABTA

ABTA run an arbitration scheme, which means if you complain to your holiday maker and don't get a satisfactory response, then they can help you take things further. This could be before you travel, for example if your travel agent wants to make changes to your booking and you feel these are unreasonable, or could be when you return from a trip.

ABTA often work closely with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) who advise whether certain destinations are safe. They're often involved in bringing stranded holidaymakers home, such as during the volcanic ash eruptions that grounded flights. Therefore, having ABTA protection gives you real peace of mind.


ATOL, or the  Air Travel Organisers' Licence, is a government run scheme that mainly focuses on giving financial protection. In an uncertain economy, you want to ensure that your expensive holiday is protected, and if anything should go wrong that you won't be out of pocket.

ATOL covers huge number of holidays. If there's at least one flight to or from the UK, and you booked flights as part of a package with accommodation or car hire, then it'll most likely be protected.

The main thing ATOL deal with is travel firms that have collapsed. If you're abroad when the holiday company you've travelled with goes under, then ATOL will make arrangements so that you can finish your holiday and get home safely. If it's before your trip, then they can help you get a full refund.

Protection for consumers is important in the travel industry, and when you book your holiday it's important that you have ABTA or ATOL protection in addition to the right insurance. This will cover lots of different situations, and gives you real peace of mind when it comes to booking. 

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