Is your holiday covered if your travel provider goes bust?
More and more of us are deserting the traditional high street travel agent and booking that well-earned holiday ourselves, online. We’ve all been there, trawling holiday sites to spot the best bargains and get them booked.
But, sadly, some dream holidays become nightmares when a travel firm goes bust – and you could be left well out of pocket.
Being stranded abroad in your holiday location may seem like a dream come true – but not when you’ve got to start shelling out for extra accommodation and day-to-day living you hadn’t paid or budgeted for.
And what if the firm goes bust before you take the holiday? Well, that’s those suitcases unpacked and put away.
But where do you stand legally about getting your money back? Thankfully new laws could be brought in by the end of 2011 to protect holidaymakers who’ve bought different elements of their holiday online – but still, strict terms and conditions apply. And not to every holiday booking...
Right now the only people covered for refunds are those who’ve booked a traditional ‘package holiday’ deal with a travel agent that’s covered by ATOL. If your holiday firm goes bust, someone will get you home. If you didn’t get away in the first place, you’ll get a full refund.
So the problem is that so many of us are now ‘doing it ourselves’ booking our sun and sand on the internet that we’re not covered if things go wrong. Some online travel businesses make it look as if you’re booking your entire holiday with them, but they’re just the shop window – in fact, you could end up buying elements of your holiday from many different suppliers.
For example, you find a great flight to your destination online and get it booked. Then you need to book your accommodation, so you stay on the site and check out their hotels section. Get that booked, pay for the lot at the same time. Covered? No. That’s what the new rules are all about.
Or, you get the flights booked and need to have a think about accommodation, booking that a few days later. No, still not covered.
Just buying a flight? Unlikely to be ATOL covered. Book a budget airline flight online and then get directed to another company’s site to book your accommodation. Nope. Those are separate transactions and you’ll lose your money if anything goes wrong.
So, let’s just hope that new laws are brought in to protect holidaymakers who make the most of modern technology to get the holiday they want, at a price that’s right and don’t need to worry about losing their money if things go pear-shaped.
Top Tips: pay by credit card, you’ll get some protection from your card provider. And get the best travel insurance you can when you book – remember, you can shop around, you don’t have to take the insurance offered by your travel company.
For further information please visit the ATOL and Abta websites to find out how they can help you if you are stranded abroad on a dynamic holiday not covered by the Package Travel Regulations.