There have been a few incidents recently that have caused people to lose their holidays, flights and more importantly the money they paid for them. There was an article in a Sunday newspaper recently which raised many points and I'd like to list them here even though they apply to all holidays anywhere in the world.
This is a kind of Government insurance scheme. Almost every holiday sold by UK travel companies that has flights, accommodation and / or car hire comes under this. It guarantees that if the travel company goes bust, you'll get your money back. If the operator goes under whilst you are on holiday the ATOL certificate is your ticket home (but it might take a few days). It's all funded by the travel companies who pay £2.50 into the pot on every booking they take. Look for the ATOL logo on companies websites and brochures - you can double check they are members at the Civil Aviation Authority website: caa.co.uk
Flight only bookings
We like our city breaks and many of us do it DIY. Flights, hotels, car hire. Any flight booking with a scheduled airline etc. all get booked separately but they are NOT covered by ATOL (as Ryanair and Monarch passengers discovered in September/ October 2017). If you book stand alone flights USE A CREDIT CARD. (You can clear the purchase later on your account). By using a CC, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, are not delivered. you can claim a refund if goods or services costing £100 to £30,000
Are Debit Card bookings protected?
It all depends on the card. Under the chargeback scheme, your card issuer can get your money back from the airline's bank if the flight does not take off. Contact your card issuer for further details / claim. Unlike Section 75 chargeback is a voluntary scheme and NOT a legal right.
Does insurance help?
Your travel poicy may NOT cover you if an airline goes bust. For that you need "Scheduled airline failure" insurance. (SAFI) either as part of your travel policy or bought as a stand-alone policy. Legal & General and the Post office offer have policies that have SAFI. ProtectMyHoliday.com can offer up to £1500 cover for airline failure, plus hotel and car hire costs from £5 per person.
Avoid up front payments
"Pay now" deals on hotels might save you a few quid but if the airline goes bust or your flight is cancelled and you can't get to your destination it's money lost. They won't refund you. The hotel or car was available but you didn't turn up to use it.
Knowing your rights
As the Ryanair cancellation fiasco showed airlines aren't too eager to tell you what your rights are in the event of delays or cancellation so read the small print and find out beforehand. If you departing from any airport within the EU (e.g. flying to Florida with Norwegian Airlines from Gatwick) or arriving anywhere in the EU on an EU airline you have rights. If your flight is delayed more than two hours the airline must provide food and drink, a phone call and, if necessary, accommodation.
If the delay is more than 3 hours then compensation kicks in - between £225 and £540 depending on length of flight. To start a claim contact the airline concerned.
If a flight is delayed by five hours or more you are entitled to a refund if you do not wish to travel, or, if you do want to travel, your airline MUST find you an alternative flight even if it is with a rival .
To check your rights visit: caa.co.uk/passengers/resolving-travel-problems/delays-and-cancellations
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