ATOL protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. It does this by carrying out checks on the tour operators and travel organisers it licenses, and requiring them to take part in a financial guarantee scheme managed by the Air Travel Trust (ATT) which provides the funds to protect customers should a firm fail. In some cases a licence holder will also provide a bond, which is lodged with the ATT and provides additional funds.
If a tour operator goes out of business, the CAA will ensure you do not lose the money you paid over, or if you're abroad, we'll arrange for you to finish your holiday and fly home.
Travel Serenity Ltd
What is ATOL and what does it do for me?
ATOL is a financial protection scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (“CAA”).
All travel companies selling air holiday packages and flights in the UK are required by law to hold a licence called an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (“ATOL”), which is granted after the company has met the CAA’s licensing requirements.
Each ATOL holder is issued with a unique ATOL number, which can be checked on the ATOL website, and must contribute to a protection fund called the Air Travel Trust (ATT).
In the event of an ATOL holder’s failure, the ATOL Scheme ensures customers who paid and contracted with the ATOL holder for an air holiday package or a flight, do not lose the money paid over or are not stranded abroad.
The ATOL Scheme does not cover bookings and payments made to airlines, or to airline agents where airline tickets or a similar airline booking confirmation has been issued.
How can I tell if a flight or air holiday package should be ATOL protected?
If you pay any money - even a deposit - to a holiday company in the UK for a flight or an air holiday package, the sale usually has to be ATOL protected. The travel company you’re booking with must either hold an ATOL or be an agent of a travel company that does, in which case it must tell you when you book which ATOL you’re protected by as soon as you pay any money, and issue a receipt, called an ATOL Receipt, to you.
If you book direct with an ATOL holder for an air holiday package it must issue an ATOL Confirmation Invoice that confirms all your arrangements you've booked and what you've paid and due to pay. There should be a statement on the invoice to confirm your protection. Also check before you book that all payments go to the ATOL holder and are not passed to a third party, like an airline. It is important to read the company's booking conditions.
Although a travel company has an ATOL, it will not always cover all holiday bookings. For example, if your payment for flights is passed to another company, like an airline, you won't usually be covered. Ask the ATOL holder before you book whether this is the case. If it is, you should ask them how all your holiday arrangements are protected if something goes wrong with the airline booking.
Some travel companies act as agents for an ATOL holder just for flights, and offer other holiday arrangements from other separate suppliers, like hotels. Where this happens, the agent should issue an ATOL Receipt just for the (ATOL protected) flights, and a receipt for the accommodation. It's important to note that ATOL will only protect the flight element if the ATOL holder fails. It will not cover the separate accommodation booking.
Travel agents may also offer scheduled flights booked direct with the airline and offer other holiday arrangements from other separate suppliers, like hotels. These arrangements won't usually be ATOL protected, so ask the agent about other protection arrangements.
Buying just a flight...
If you're just buying a charter flight, you should receive confirmation of your ATOL protection. If you are not sure, speak to the travel company.
If you're just buying a scheduled airline ticket from a travel agent and you get a paper ticket, e-ticket (which might just be an airline booking reference) or airline confirmation straight after you’ve paid, you won't usually be covered. If the agent passes your credit or debit card details direct to the airline and they take payment, you will not be covered. Check your payment arrangements with your agent. You may wish to consider travel insurance that covers airline insolvency.
ATOL also doesn’t apply if you book direct with an airline. You may wish to consider travel insurance that covers airline insolvency.
How can I ensure I'm ATOL protecteted before I book?
Look for the ATOL logo in advertisements, brochures and websites.
If you can’t see an ATOL number or logo, ask the holiday company for their ATOL number and check this with us before you book. If you’re buying an air holiday package and the company does not have an ATOL you will not be covered by the CAA.
Before you book and make a payment for a holiday, check whether the ATOL holder will charge your credit card or debit your bank account for your flights and other holiday arrangements together. Some travel company's split payments by passing customers' card details to airlines or other suppliers. If a payment is made direct to an airline, your holiday will not be ATOL protected.
Travel agents often sell air holiday packages for a range of ATOL holders. If you book through an agent, ask which ATOL holder will appear on your ATOL Receipt.
If you buy an air holiday package from a travel agent that is not from an ATOL holder’s brochure or website, check whether all the items you’re booking will be protected and make sure you get an ATOL Receipt that includes all these items, the ATOL holder’s name and ATOL number. If they are not all covered, for example, some agents will offer an ATOL protected flight and accommodation from a separate supplier, ask your agent about protection arrangements for these other arrangements, and whether you can get a refund if the flight operator fails.
I'm booking with an ATOL holder. How can check I'm covered?
Before you book you should check with the holiday company that all the holiday arrangements you’re booking with them, flights and accommodation, are covered by their ATOL, and that you will receive a holiday invoice, called an ATOL Confirmation Invoice, that confirms these arrangements, the total cost and your ATOL protection. In should also include a statement confirming your protection.
Some holiday companies split payments for bookings and pass customer card details to airlines, in which case your card statement will show the airline's name. Where this happens you won't usually be covered by the ATOL Scheme. Check with the holiday company before you make payment. If this is the case, you should ask them whether all your holiday arrangements are protected if something goes wrong with the airline booking.
If you are covered, the ATOL Confirmation Invoice is a very important document, as it will ensure you are protected if your holiday company fails. You should keep it safe and take a copy on holiday with you in case you need to claim.
How can I check I am covered if I book through a travel agent?
You should first ask your travel agent to confirm that the whole holiday you’re booking with them is ATOL protected, and that you will receive a full refund or be brought home if the holiday company fails.
If you receive the answer ‘yes’, make sure you receive an ATOL Receipt that confirms all your holiday arrangements are covered, the total cost, the name of the ATOL holder and their ATOL number. You should also receive the ATOL holder’s Confirmation Invoice shortly afterwards. Once you get it, check it carefully against the agent's receipt to make sure all items are covered. If you don't get a copy, ask your agent for it.
These are very important documents, as they will ensure you are protected if your holiday company fails. You should keep them safe and take them on holiday with you in case you need to claim.
Some travel agents will offer just offer ATOL protected flights and offer other holiday arrangements from other separate suppliers, like hotels. Where this happens, the agent should issue an ATOL Receipt just for the (ATOL protected) flights, and a receipt for the accommodation. It's important to note that ATOL will only protect the flight element if the ATOL holder fails. It will not cover the separate accommodation booking.
What is APC (ATOL Protection Contribution)?
ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) is a per person payment which ATOL holders must make to a protection fund called the Air Travel Trust (ATT), which is managed by the CAA.
The money in this fund is available to safeguard customers of a failed ATOL holder and where appropriate, provide refunds to those unable to take their holiday due to the ATOL holder failing.
Some ATOL holders will put information about APC in their brochures, websites and on their ATOL Confirmation Invoices explaining that a small amount of the total cost of the air holiday package or flights being sold is contributed to the ATT for ATOL protection.
My invoice says I have paid for ATOL protection. Is this right, and do I have to pay this?
The ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) is not a charge on individual customers. It is a per person contribution ATOL holders must make to the CAA. The APC is usually built within the overall cost of the holidays and flights it sells.
Am I covered if I book on the Internet?
When booking on the Internet it is important to check that you are dealing with a bona fide company. ATOL holders must register their trading names and web addresses with the CAA so you can check these before you book.
Most ATOL holders have websites and many provide an on-line booking facility that allows you to buy an off the shelf holiday package, build a holiday package from a range of travel and holiday accommodation options or book a flight.
When you’re about to book you should be given information about your ATOL protection, and when you’ve booked you should receive an ATOL Confirmation Invoice (by e-mail or post), which includes all the arrangements you’re purchasing, the price you’re paying and information about your ATOL protection.
If you’re booking an air holiday package on-line with a travel agent, the agent must tell you which ATOL holder you are going to be booked with, their ATOL number and issue an ATOL Receipt when you’ve made payment. This should include all the arrangements you’re purchasing, the price you’re paying and your ATOL protection. The ATOL holder’s ATOL Confirmation Invoice should also be sent to you.
These are very important documents, as they will ensure you are protected if your holiday company fails. You should keep them safe and take them on holiday with you in case you need to claim. If you are unsure whether arrangements are ATOL protected, check with the travel agent first.
Can ATOL protect holidays you build yourself?
Many websites will offer a “flights + hotel + car hire” booking facility, which allows you to build a holiday package from a range of travel and other holiday options.
If you build a complete holiday package and contract with an ATOL holder, you should be protected. Check for the holiday company’s ATOL and make sure you get an ATOL Confirmation Invoice covering all the items you've booked and paid for.
You should also benefit from the rights provided under the Package Travel Regulations because the holiday company is responsible for each component of the holiday. If there's a problem with one of them – whether before you go or when you're away – the tour operator must sort things out and provide you with assistance.
There are many ATOL tour operators' that let you build value for money and flexible holidays that are protected. Look for the ATOL logo and check for information that confirms all your arrangements are covered. This will usually be shown on websites before you book, or explained to you when you book over the ‘phone or in a travel shop.
What if I don't build a holiday with an ATOL holder?
Many holidaymakers plan so-called "DIY holidays", where you bring together holiday flights and accommodation from different suppliers, such as airlines and hotel bed-banks. However, despite what many people believe, these holidays are not protected in the way a package bought from a single holiday company would be under ATOL.
Booking on-line with separate suppliers may seem like a cheap option, but if for example an airline were to stop flying, you might pay considerably more to get another flight home and might even have to cut short your holiday.
If you've yet to travel, you could have difficulties getting to the accommodation you've already paid for, and last minute alternative flights could be more expensive and may operate on different days and times to the ones originally booked.
Our advice is to take out travel insurance making sure it covers insolvency and possible indirect loss as a consequence. Be careful though because many policies don’t give this cover, while those that do limit the amount you can claim or have exclusions, so read the small print.
You can also consider paying by credit card, since you should be covered under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Be careful though, you have to pay more than £100 and you won't be covered for any indirect loss as a consequence.
Am I covered if I just book a schedule flight with an ATOL holder?
Yes, in some cases. If you book a scheduled flight with an ATOL holder (either direct or through a travel agent) and you get an ATOL Confirmation Invoice after making a payment, your booking is protected if the ATOL holder fails.
You should also be covered if the airline fails, although you may be asked to pay a small insurance premium at the time of booking for this extra protection.
If you get an airline ticket straightaway, whether it is an electronic ticket, airline confirmation or a paper airline coupon, or within 24 hours if you book by phone, you won’t normally be protected by ATOL.
Am I covered by ATOL if I book a flight or holiday direct with an airline?
If you book just a flight direct with an airline you won’t be ATOL protected. However, your credit card issuer may cover you if you pay by credit card and spend over £100 - check with your credit card company. You should also consider insurance that covers airline failure.
Airlines may also offer hotels and car hire that can be bought at the same time. These may be offered in different ways.
Some airlines will provide links to other websites operated by different companies. Here you’ll probably make separate payments, in which case you’re probably not fully protected.
If an airline will let you book the whole holiday package with them and take a single payment, the airline must provide financial protection under the Package Travel Regulations.
Other airlines will take you to a website operated by a holiday company with an ATOL if you want to book flights and accommodation. Check that you make a single payment to this company, and make sure you get an ATOL Confirmation Invoice confirming that you’re ATOL protected.
Will ATOL get me home of I'm abroad if my holiday company goes bust
ATOL protected customers will usually be able to complete their holidays and fly back to the UK at the end of their stay. We will check accommodation and flight providers to the failed company to ensure these can still be used, but where necessary we will make alternative arrangements. In a few cases it may be necessary to change accommodation or flights back to the UK. Should this be necessary, the CAA will try and provide information in advance.
If a holiday includes scheduled airline tickets that have been issued, these will usually be honored, but you should check with the airline before going to the airport.
What documents should I take with me when I go on holiday to ensure I'll be covered?
You should take the ATOL Confirmation Invoice you received from the ATOL holder. This will confirm your entitlement to ATOL protection should your tour operator fail.
If you book through a travel agent, make sure the agent sends you this document before you’re due to travel. At the very least you should have an ATOL Receipt from the agent giving the ATOL holder’s details and what you have booked with them.
Will I still get my holiday if the ATOL holder goes bust before I'm due to go?
Air holiday packages will usually be cancelled due to accommodation or other holiday arrangements no longer being available, so you’ll usually get a refund instead.
If you’ve booked just a scheduled flight with an ATOL holder and you have a valid airline ticket, you should still be able to travel, but you’ll need to check with the airline first.
If your holiday has to be cancelled, some travel agents may be willing to give you another one without further payment or by just paying the difference between the original and new holiday prices (if applicable). They may ask you instead to fill in a form so that we can pay your refund to them.
What if my travel agent fails alter it has issued an ATOL receipt?
If you book an ATOL protected air holiday package or flight through a travel agent, the agent must issue you with an ATOL Receipt for your money. Amongst other things this should give the name of the ATOL holder they have booked you with, its ATOL number, the holiday arrangements you’re purchasing and the booking reference.
Once this has been issued the ATOL holder must continue to honour your booking if the agent goes out of business, but it will be important to keep your ATOL Receipt since it will help you contact the ATOL holder and locate your booking.
If an airline fails and I'm booked with an ATOL holder, how am I covered?When a holiday company sells a package under its ATOL it is contractually responsible for the travel and holiday arrangements it makes for its customers. If the airline providing the flights fails, the company should make alternative arrangements so that its customers can continue to travel on holiday or fly home.
Do other organisations like ABTA provide the same protection as ATOL?
No they don’t. ATOL is a legal requirement, so holiday companies selling flights and air holiday packages have to provide ATOL protection.
ABTA is a travel trade association that has a bonding requirement for non-air holidays as a condition of membership. It also has a code of conduct covering standards of service and complaints, which members should adhere to.
Does ATOL deal with complaints, such as poor service?
No it does not. However, if you have a complaint about a holiday package that you have not been able to resolve, you may have rights under the Package Travel Regulations.
Can ATOL help if I'm abroad and I have a problem?
If your holiday company has an ATOL and it fails while you’re away, we will make arrangements to ensure you can complete your holiday and fly home.
If you have a problem with a component of a holiday itself, such as the accommodation or holiday facilities you pre-booked with the holiday company, you may have rights under the Package Travel Regulations, which require the holiday company to take responsibility for each component of the holiday. If there's a problem with one of them when you're away, it must sort things out and provide you with assistance.
You should contact the holiday company while you’re away and try to resolve the problem there. If this is not possible, do so on your return. If you’re not happy with the outcome, contact Consumer Direct.
The Foreign Office provides useful advice to holidaymakers on how to avoid and deal with problems when travelling abroad