Last week, Lowcosttravelgroup Limited ceased trading. Perhaps the company was best known in the UK for its lowcostholidays.com website. At the time the company ceased trading, it has 27,000 customers overseas and over 100,000 with future bookings.
Those who’ve paid for holidays they have not yet taken are likely to get just £7.78 back.
That’s because the group was not registered with the ATOL scheme. It was this fact that also left some overseas customers having to pay for hotels in resort despite having already paid Lowcosttravelgroup Limited.
ATOL protection is something many of us simply take for granted. But cases like this really highlight the importance making sure you book with ATOL registered travel agents.
Here are some of the most important questions about ATOL answered:
What exactly is ATOL?
ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing and it’s a scheme established by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the UK. Backed by the Government, it means that if you book a holiday with a company that is ATOL registered and that company goes out of business, you won’t lose money. You’ll be refunded if you have not yet taken your holiday. And if you are overseas when it happens, you’ll be covered and won’t have to pay to fly yourself home or pay for additional accommodation.
It’s a legal requirement in many cases for travel agents to ensure your holiday is protected.
Why was Lowcosttravelgroup not ATOL Protected?
Essentially, this was because of the domicile of the company. The group was essentially a Spanish company. It is thought to have left ATOL in 2013.
How do I know if a Travel Agent is ATOL Protected?
Look for the logo on their website, ask for their ATOL number. You can also search for them at http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/modalapplication.aspx?appid=2
What other protection should consumers have?
While ATOL protection is a legal requirement in many cases, some travel agents go further than this. Jason Edwards, Managing Director at HolidayGems.co.uk, explains some of the additional steps his company has taken:
“It’s massively important for us that our customers are protected whatever happens. So yes, our package holidays are protected by ATOL. But we also go to the extra length of ensuring that any monies paid to us when customers book their holidays go into a Secured and Regulated “client account.” We’re the largest member of the Global Travel Group consortia, which is owned by DNATA. The client account is held by Global Travel Group (DNATA) and the monies within it can only be used to payment to suppliers and not for any other purpose.
It’s also worth adding that people paying for holidays on debit and credit cards have the same consumer rights as they would with any purchase on a card like that. This offers some additional protection.
Protecting our customers is really important to us.”
Tips for Your Next Booking
- Look for ATOL protection
- Ask the agent what additional protection is available
Don’t let your holiday be ruined by someone going out of business!