If you’re looking for a holiday, but don’t know what ATOL and ABTA protection offer, I’m here to explain, because you want to ensure that your holiday is protected in all eventualities. First what is the difference between ATOL and ABTA protection? To be honest there isn’t a great deal, both give you the same protection, just ATOL is for air-based holidays and ABTA is for every other operator booked holiday.



ATOL, which stands for an Air Travel Operators License, covers your PACKAGE holiday if something goes wrong, i.e. a company goes bust. It is mainly to ensure you can be repatriated. Should you seek further compensation you would find this difficult as if the company has gone bust, and they only paid what is effectively an insurance premium, where does the money come from? You are also protected against non-provision of stated elements of your holiday for certain reasons, such as bad weather causing cancellations.



For land and sea holidays, you need to look out for ABTA, which stands for the Association of British Travel Agents. ABTA protection is afforded if your travel agent goes bust, or you have serious cause for recourse against your provider, provided they were/are an ABTA member. The crucial difference is that these ABTA protected companies actually have to lodge a proportion of the cost of the holiday into bond with ABTA. So, there should be something to get back, if things go wrong.



Since the 1st July 2018, you’re rights have changed. PACKAGE holidays will continue to be afforded both LEGAL and FINANCIAL recourse, because they are sold as a full package, with certain levels of expectation. However, all bookings made from the 1st July 2018 that involve two or more elements of the same trip will be classed as LINKED TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS. This will give you a level of FINANCIAL protection should something go wrong with these elements.



It is and it isn’t. If you only book a hotel, then you won’t be covered. If you book two or more parts of a holiday with Expedia, then you may well be protected as having booked a Linked Travel Arrangement. The important new distinction is that, where as previously Linked Travel arrangements providers were seen as having no liability as the providers were generally separate entities, they are now seen in a similar light to travel agents. If you book a full package holiday you will get both financial and legal protection. The difference is that financial protection protects you’re financial loss and legal covers a loss of enjoyment.



Sites like Expedia do a great job of lowering the price for the consumer. Whilst ABTA offers bonded holidays, it is limited to Land and Sea. The vast majority of travel is done by air though and operators generally provide you with an ATOL certificate. That’s your basic level cover.

The question comes as to whether you book a package holiday or not. That’s up to you, you pay your money and you take your choice. However, booking a linked travel arrangement does afford you that financial protection regardless of which part of your holiday has gone wrong. Hotel not built? You’re covered! 10ft snow drifts at Heathrow… Covered! Booked a hire car and got a bicycle? You guessed it. Covered.

The question is, do you want to be able to take out a legal case for compensation? This would likely be an expensive case to proceed with. Most sensible operators will offer some form compensation on top of your financial loss anyway. So for me, the reduced prices incurred when booking a city break, don’t warrant anything more than financial protection. But for a family, where dates are difficult and the available ones are pricey and come around once or twice a year. A package does offer a level of security or comfort that gives you priceless peace of mind.

It’s not whether your operator is ABTA or ATOL protected, so much as what level of cover your holiday automatically comes with – Package Holiday or Linked Travel Arrangement.

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