THERE was heartbreak for Thomas Cook staff and holidaymakers in September this year after the well-known holiday company suddenly ceased trading.
Following the announcement, the largest peacetime repatriation in British history had to take place with 150,000 travellers stuck abroad.
While all passengers were repatriated, only those with ATOL protection benefited from having their accommodation guaranteed, as well as any additional accommodation required and the opportunity to claim for any out of pocket expenses as a result of the disruption.
And holidaymakers that were due to travel on an ATOL protected package holiday with Thomas Cook were able to claim for a full refund, while those without protection were left out of pocket.
As plenty of people start thinking about their 2020 holiday, the UK Civil Aviation Authority says more than a quarter of people in the North West still do not know how to check for ATOL protection when booking their holiday.
Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL, commented: “Thomas Cook ceasing to trade was a great loss for the industry, customers and employees.
“It has also highlighted the importance of booking an ATOL protected package holiday.
“While booking flights and hotels separately can give consumers greater control over their holiday and, in some cases, can lead to some great deals, travellers leave themselves vulnerable if they do not have financial protection.
“It is very positive to see holidaymakers excited to book trips abroad for 2020 and heartening to learn that the collapse of Thomas Cook has not shaken people’s confidence in travelling abroad.
“However, it is still worrying that a large proportion of travellers do not know how to check for this protection.”
How can I check for ATOL protection?
There are a number of ways to check for ATOL protection before booking:
• Look out for the ATOL logo
Whether on your travel company’s website, shop window or brochures, each ATOL holder has to display an ATOL logo along with their unique ATOL number.
• Make sure you are booking a package
Not everything sold by an ATOL holder will be covered.
ATOL covers flight-inclusive package holidays, meaning if you book accommodation and flights separately, you likely will not be covered.
• Double check their ATOL number on our database
You can search for a travel company on the database – caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection/Check-an-ATOL/ATOL-holder-search/
This will show you if they are a valid ATOL holder, as well as any trading names.
• Check your ATOL certificate
You should receive your certificate straight after booking.
If you don’t, make sure to request this immediately as it will show who and what is covered, as well as who is providing your protection.
Please visit packpeaceofmind.co.uk for further information about how to check for ATOL.