Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Financial Protection and Safety for Britons on Holidays

With the eagerness of planning a memorable and mesmerizing holiday tour to enthralling destinations, a number of crucial aspects are often forgotten. The financial protection with regard to the money spent on holiday as well as the safe and hassle-free return back home, if the travel company goes bust, are such aspects that are probably the last thing to pop in the minds of travellers.

Considering India for example, the country’s aviation industry has been facing tremendous challenges of late, with airlines reeling under enormous losses and debts running in billions of dollars.

Imagine booking flights to India and while you are on holidays you read about the travel company or the airline that you booked with going bankrupt. Though the Indian aviation has not been popular for airlines operating flights to India going bust, yet travellers who have already booked cheap flights to India or are planning to do so must remain careful.

The article discusses about the various organizations that have been established to protect and support the rights of the Britons who book flights and holidays to any destination in the world. Travellers must research these well before making bookings and ensure that the travel company is regulated by one or more of these.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is an independent specialist aviation regulator that controls activities such as financial regulation, airspace rule, safety regulation and customer protection and much more.

Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL)

Managed by CAA, ATOL is a sole protection plan for flights and air holidays sold by travel companies in the UK. ATOL provides financial protection to the Britons when their travel service provider goes out of business.

All the licensed tour operators in the UK have to lodge bonds with the CAA that offers benefits like repayments within 4 weeks and makes all the needed arrangements to let the Britons finish their holidays and fly back home contentedly.

In case the ATOL bond fails to work as per the requirements, a Government-backed fund, the Air Travel Trust (ATT) comes up to take the charge in hand.

The travellers may also check whether their tour operator is ATOL registered or not. For example, travellers planning holidays and booking cheap flights to India with a travel agent may simply go to the ATOL website and enter either the registration number or the company name to cross verify it.

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)

Governing an array of tour operators and agencies, ABTA is a premier organisation of UK that works for the financial protection of the Britons. The association issues a code of conduct and seek strict compliance from the member travel agents. The detailed code of conduct can be read on the association’s website and can enlighten any holiday maker who is planning to book with travel agents.

Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)

AITO is an organization that embraces over 140 independent expert tour operators who adhere to a Code of Business Practice and a code of conduct named as the Quality Charter. AITO tour operators ensure 100% consumer financial protection either by its own government sanctioned bonding scheme (AITO Trust) or by some other schemes like ATOL or ABTA.

Basic Tips to Stay Financially Protected

Read Booking Terms and Conditions Properly – Travellers must always read the small print and confirm all the terms and conditions included in their holiday deal before making the final bookings.

Pay by Credit Cards – As per the 1974 Consumer Credit Act, if a consumer does not get his goods he can obtain reimbursement for it from the credit card company. Therefore, if a traveller has made all the payments of the holiday package with credit card in one transaction, he can claim back the cost of his airline tickets, hotel, etc from the card issuer if his tour operator goes bust.

Beware of Split Contracts - Some travel companies also sell 'split contracts' to the travellers in which they provide all-inclusive holiday deals, but divide the invoice and charge for airline tickets, hotel and all other bookings separately. This leaves the flyers without any protection.

Take Travel Insurance – Travellers should always opt for a travel insurance that includes end supplier failure from the moment they book their holiday trip. This helps them in obtaining cancellation cover without any delay.

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