What are the Benefits of Booking Regulated Package Holidays?


With recent news that holidaymakers are rapidly becoming victims of fraud, it's definitely worth understanding exactly what you intend to book when you consider buying a holiday. Before you commit yourself, it is advisable to check whether your holiday is one that is regulated by the Package Travel Regulations [1992].

Holiday Rights

Travellers are also advised to choose a reputable tour operator whose holidays are protected by these regulations to avoid 'a big scam'!

The Scams

The City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has joined forces with Get Safe Online to raise awareness about a recent influx of holiday booking fraud.

The most common types of fraud include:

  • Holiday accommodation – Fraudulent advertising of holiday villas and apartments scammed almost a third of potential holidaymakers in 2013
  • Airline tickets – The customer thinks they have booked a flight, only to receive a fake ticket, or none at all! This accounts for 21% of holiday booking fraud, and was the second most common method in 2013
  • Package holidays – In particular sports and religious packages, such as the Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and the Ryder Cup. This was the third most popular method of fraud, accounting for 17%. It is feared that the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil may be targeted this year.

There are many benefits of choosing a package holiday, from a provider you can trust particularly if things go wrong.

Your Protection – Package Travel Regulations

If you purchase a regulated package holiday, you are likely to have bought flights and accommodation at one inclusive price in the UK.

Usually if something bad occurs abroad (such as food poisoning at your hotel, or a nasty accident), you have to bring a claim against the hotel in their country. This is difficult, expensive and often more trouble than it's worth, since other countries don't have the same legal system or entitlement to compensation as we have in Britain.

However, if your holiday is regulated it means you can bring a claim in this country against the tour operator who sold you the holiday. This means you get the protection you're entitled to under English law, and if you went with a leading tour operator, they're unlikely to go bust before you make a claim against them.

Your Protection – Reputable Companies

It is quite common for small internet travel agencies to sell holidays and then disappear into thin air abandoning families abroad. However, tour operators such as Thomson and Thomas Cook have shops on the high street, meaning that if something goes wrong, they will still be there when you get home.

Brand name tour operators can be identified, sued in the UK, but importantly are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) a body which imposes Preferred Codes of Practice on their members in respect of health and safety.

Why not check to see if your holiday company represents FTO membership on it website or in its brochures.

Your Protection – ABTA and ATOL

Ever wondered what they mean at the end of holiday adverts when they say - ATOL protected?

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers' Licensing. This is a scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority, who regulate air travel. Any money you pay for a package holiday involving flights is protected and you're given a certificate to prove this.

If a travel company goes bust, this certificate entitles you to a refund, meaning you need to keep it safe!

If you book your flights direct, or book a dynamically packaged holiday (where the flights and accommodation are booked individually at separate prices) you don't get this protection.

ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents, an organisation tour operator's can choose to join. If they do join, they have to follow strict rules and abide by ABTA's code of conduct. It can be considered a quality mark for a tour operator if they are a member of ABTA.

If something does go wrong with a tour operator who's a member of ABTA, you can take it to arbitration. Arbitration sits the tour operator down with its customer to resolve the dispute, and they agree to be bound by what the 'arbitrator' says. It has similarities to court, and is carried out on paper.

Next time you're thinking about buying a holiday, just think about how you're going to book it, and with whom. It's not simply a matter of where you want to go.

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