With recent industry booking data suggesting many people are waiting until the last minute to organise their next holiday, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is urging consumers to make sure everything checks out before they book their well-earned getaway.
The UK aviation regulator, which runs the ATOL financial protection scheme, is warning that it is more important than ever to make smart decisions and do your research when booking a holiday. The trend to hunt for last minute deals is believed to be fuelled by worries over the cost of living, as well as a lack of sunny weather in recent weeks.
The ATOL scheme offers financial protection for British holidaymakers when they book a package trip that includes a flight. The scheme steps in to protect passengers if their holiday company ceases to trade, assisting them to get home if they are already aboard or allowing them to make a claim if they are yet to travel.
ATOL is marking its 50th anniversary after the first licences were issued to travel companies in the summer of 1973. Over the last half century, ATOL has also grown to financially protect more than 26 million passengers a year and there are now over 1,600 travel businesses licensed under the scheme.
Head of ATOL at the UK Civil Aviation Authority Michael Budge, said, “Booking anything last minute inevitably means people making quick decisions but it is still important to do a bit of homework before you commit.
“Holidays are always a significant financial outlay, that can run into thousands of pounds, so it’s worth taking a few simple steps to safeguard your hard-earned money.
“By booking ATOL-protected packages, holidaymakers can enjoy their holidays with peace of mind, knowing their money is safe and they will be protected should anything happen to their travel firm.”
Some top tips to financially protect last-minute holiday bookings include:
Consider booking a package trip
Rather than organising flights and accommodation separately, that offers consumer protection and convenience. Consumers can easily check if their holiday provider is ATOL protected by using the Check for ATOL tool on our website.
Do your research
Carry this out on your travel company and planned trip before you book, particularly if it is a company you haven’t travelled with before and shop around with other providers to check it really is a good deal.
Use a credit card for holiday bookings if possible
it may provide additional protection for your trip, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Book travel insurance
It can provide extra protection if the holiday doesn’t work out quite as intended. It can protect against a range of mishaps relating from cancellations, missed transport and medical emergencies through to items lost or stolen when travelling. The type of cover will vary so always carefully check the insurance terms and conditions for full details of cover.
Keep essential documents safe
Save and organise booking confirmations, receipts, copies of passports and insurance documents for easy access during your trip.
Look out for hidden costs and charges
For example if you want to amend the booking before you travel or if you need to pay for extra baggage.
Stay updated on the latest travel requirements
This includes passport validity, visas, and entry restrictions using the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website. Make sure you have the necessary documents and meet the health and safety requirements of your destination.
The Department for Transport also has an Aviation Passenger Charter, which is a guide to the rights and responsibilities of air passengers.
For more information and resources on financial protection and ATOL-licensed operators, please visit www.atol.org
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