Flight-Plus exemption valid for direct card sales from 30 April

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Under forthcoming new regulations, travel agents can continue to avoid the need for an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) on flight sales where the customer pays the airline directly by credit or debit card and a confirmation ticket is immediately issued.

Flight Airport

According to the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) website, an agent will need an ATOL after 30 April in order to sell flights with accommodation or car hire, or with both.

For the Flight-Plus exemption to apply, however, all invoices and receipts must state expressly that the flight is not protected under the ATOL scheme.

The exemption will not be valid for flights within a bigger package, or where a traveller arranges vehicle-hire or accommodation in the same deal, even if it is not part of the same transaction.

The CAA has also restated that IATA agents will not be obliged to hold an ATOL. Also exempted will be business travel sales and sales to bodies such as charities and schools.

The precise definition and requirements for Flight-Plus and firms which arrange Flight-Plus packages will be detailed in the revised ATOL Regulations. Among the key points are:

  • Flight-Plus is a flight sold with accommodation and/or car hire. Other package elements comprising a significant part of the holiday must also be included.
  • The flight and accommodation and/or car hire must be requested within 1 day of each other, in whatever order the customer prefers.
  • The trip must be over 24 hours in duration or include an overnight stay.
  • If a firm sells another ATOL holder’s flight-inclusive package and then adds separate foreign car hire or accommodation, this is also categorised as Flight-Plus, which the firm will have to protect under its licence.
  • The flight must have its outbound leg departing from the UK, except where the arrangement includes leaving the UK by another mode of travel as well as an overseas flight.

You can find final details of the new ATOL regulations, which come into force on 30 April, on the CAA website.


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Nick Harris - Head of International Travel Law - Manchester

Nick Harris
Head of International Holiday Travel Law
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