WITH the rise of cheaper of air travel there are more independent travellers than ever; however, even if you’ve not booked a package holiday which gives you automatic cover, if your holiday company or airlines goes bust, there are still options available.
Stephen Cowan, from the Law Society of Scotland’s consumer law committee, says that, while it’s rare for things to go wrong, for most of us heading for a week or two in the sun, there are steps which can be taken before you even head to the airport to help ensure you’re not out of pocket if disaster strikes.
Mr Cowan said: “Check first of all if your holiday counts as a package holiday and whether your operator holds an ATOL licence. You should also make sure to check what protection your booking agent, credit card provider or travel insurance covers if things go wrong before you go.
“All companies selling package holidays hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) and therefore must offer protection if they, or the airline you’re flying with, go bust. If the airline or holiday company goes bust before you travel, you will either be offered a replacement holiday or a refund.
“If you are on holiday at the time don’t worry, it will be insured meaning allowing you to get home without additional cost. It may mean your travel details have to change, such as an extension to the date of travel or coming home to or from a different airport, but this should not result in extra expense to the consumer.”
Mr Cowan, managing partner at Yuill and Kyle Solicitors, also said travellers need to take extra care if they have booked their own flights directly with the airline as they will not be ATOL protected.
He said: “This means if the airline goes bust, you will need to book to fly home with another airline and might have additional expenses such as hotel and travel arrangements, which you will have to pay yourself.
“There are ways to protect yourself however, such as booking through an agent that offers protection under ATOL or another scheme, paying by credit card – for sums over £100. It can also sometimes be possible to buy specific airline failure insurance separately or as an add-on to a travel insurance policy.
“If things do go wrong, make sure you speak to your travel provider as soon as possible to find out what help they might be able to provide, and keep all additional receipts for your outlays as you may be able to recoup some, if not all, of the costs.
“While you can’t predict everything that might happen while you’re away, a bit of advance planning definitely helps ensure peace of mind – and a great holiday.”
ENDS 22 JULY 2011
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