What are you looking for?

Select Page

Make an enquiry
Request a video call
Call one of our cruise consultants

ABTA & ATOL Protected: What Do These Really Mean for the Customer?

ABTA & ATOL Protected: What Do These Really Mean for the Customer?

The travel industry is bouncing back, with holiday bookings picking up since the relaxation of the restrictions. However, after all the uncertainty, it’s not surprising that terms like ABTA and ATOL protected are under closer scrutiny. But what exactly do they mean for you when you’re booking a holiday? And which one do you need for a cruise?

What is ABTA?

ABTA is the acronym for the Association of British Travel Agents. Representing travel agents and tour operators, it is the UK’s largest travel association and was founded over 60 years ago.

For travel companies to be certified by ABTA, they must abide by a specific code of conduct. If anything should go wrong on your holiday or any financial problems are encountered, these standards and the insurance provided will offer you protection.

ABTA isn’t the only scheme of this type, but it is the largest. It is voluntary for travel organisations, so always check before booking if your travel agent or tour operator is a member.

What does ABTA protection cover?

ABTA protection covers holidays purchased in the UK, which do not include flights. So, if your holiday package involves coach or rail travel or is a cruise, and your provider is an ABTA member, it is covered under ABTA’s financial protection scheme. 

An ABTA-protected holiday means that, in the unlikely event of your travel provider going out of business, you will be able to get a full refund or a replacement holiday. If you are on the holiday when this happens, the protection will offer support to minimise disruption to your stay and cover the costs of you getting home.

What is ATOL?

ATOL is the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence. It was introduced in 1973 as a UK financial protection scheme that covers most holiday packages that include flights sold by travel companies.

ATOL is run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and was created when the UK Government saw that consumers needed protection if their travel provider fell into difficulties.

What does ATOL protection cover?

Like ABTA, the scheme protects holidaymakers if their travel provider should encounter financial difficulties or ceases trading. If this happens when you are on your holiday, it will provide financial reimbursement for the cost of replacing parts of an ATOL protected package. The scheme aims to minimise disruption to your holiday and assist in returning home.

ATOL does not apply to flights booked directly with scheduled airlines or flights booked with airline ticket agents. However, some flight-only bookings, usually with charter flights, are included.

What’s the difference between ATOL and ABTA protection?

The key difference for customers between ATOL and ABTA protection is that package holidays with flights have ATOL protection, and those without, such as cruises, have ABTA protection or similar. Many ABTA members also hold an ATOL licence.

How do I know my holiday is ATOL or ABTA protected?

UK law states that your holiday must be protected if you purchase your package when in the UK. You can check for this protection at the time of booking by looking for the ATOL or ABTA logo on the travel website, brochure or advert. If you are booking a holiday that includes a flight, you should receive an ATOL certificate when you have booked and paid anything towards your holiday.

Be aware this protection does not extend to non-UK companies. There have been cases where travel companies registered in other countries have gone bust, and customers have lost money because they were not ATOL protected.

Do I still need travel insurance?

Yes, you still need to arrange travel insurance when booking a holiday as there are other reasons where cancellations or issues could occur that will not be covered by ABTA or ATOL.

To check what protection is offered for your cruise holiday, please speak to our cruise specialists.

    Previous Articles