I have just bought a holiday package to Greece for my husband and me. When I told a friend about it, she asked whether or not the holiday company was registered with ATOL. How do I find out? Please, if possible, also provide some more information about ATOL! Suzie Cartwright, Leeds
It's great that you are taking the time to do your research before booking your holiday. Your girlfriend has given you a golden piece of advice - something more travellers should be aware of before booking any holiday.
ATOL is a financial protection scheme that looks out for the interests of travellers - the acronym stands for 'Air Travel Organizers License'.
Like any other important licence, travel companies who sell air holiday packages and flights are required to meet a number of requirements before being issued one. This is strictly regulated by the a Civil Aviation Authority - the UK's independent 'aviation police'.
How Does It Work?
Travel companies with an ATOL must contribute to a protection fund, called the Air Travel Trust. In the event of an ATOL registered company going into administration, the trust is used to cover (or partly at least) the costs for those who have pre-paid for packages, and repatriating those already on holiday.
How Do You Know If Your Holiday Is ATOL Protected?
Any company affiliated with the ATOL scheme should have the logo on display:
If there is not an ATOL banner on the website, ask about it before you hand over a penny. In the wake of the recession, there were several tour operators who went into administration - those that were ATOL protected were able to offer their clients some compensation at least.
Above the logo, there will be a tracking number, which you can use on the ATOL website to find out more about the company you are travelling with. Also, once you have paid for the holiday package, the receipt should have all the company's ATOL details on it.
Protect Your Holiday
Worrying about your holiday provider going bust is not a pleasant thing to consider, but it costs nothing to check whether they are covered by ATOL and it will make the world of difference should something happen to the company.
For more in-depth information, take a look at our guide to protecting your holiday.
We hope this has been helpful and that you enjoy your time in Greece with your husband!
Essential Travel Magazine Team
Last Updated: August 2011