Which? warns against booking holidays without new travel certificates
Consumer champion Which? has raised concern that some travel agents will not be ready to implement the new system of ATOL travel certificates, which was launched yesterday (01/10/12).
The new system of issuing certificates when holidays are booked is in response to changes in how holidaymakers book package holidays.
Previously package holidays were sold as one contract, with all the various elements of the package included.
However, as more people book online, some elements of the package they book – for example, flights – may be considered as a separate booking and may not be covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992.
This means if an airline goes bust, that part of their holiday may not be deemed part of the package, but an independent booking.
The certificates are issued by both online and high street travel agents – and Which? is advising consumers only to book package holidays with travel agents which are able to issue the certificate at the time of booking the holiday.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – which organises the ATOL travel certificates – has claimed, however, that the new scheme will still protect holidaymakers, even if their travel agent is not yet able to issue certificates.
The new ATOL certificates will state which elements of a holiday are covered in case of unforeseen event like an airline going bust before departure.
However, many smaller travel agents have still not upgraded their IT systems to cope with issuing the certificates – even though the changes to consumer protection were brought in from April to allow travel agents to prepare for this week’s launch.
The CAA has said the next few weeks may still see some travel agents unable to issue ATOL certificates when holidays are booked.
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