Holidays and travel (before you buy)
Choose travel agents and tour operators who belong to a recognised trade association that have a code of practice. Look for ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) on brochures or invoices.
A package holiday includes at least two of the following as a pre-arranged combination:
other significant tourist services (such as reps or excursions paid at time of booking holiday).
It is sold at an inclusive price and covers a period of more than 24 hours (or includes overnight accommodation).
Tour operators are also responsible for making sure the whole holiday is supplied as promised - even if part of the package is supplied by another party, such as an airline. This means, for example, if there is a problem with the hotel or flights including if the airline you are flying with goes bust, you should have a claim against the tour operator.
When buying a holiday you may be offered travel insurance and it is up to you to consider this, as you may have annual travel insurance or wish to purchase it elsewhere or decide you don't want it. Travel agents and tour operators must not charge you a different price or require additional payment if you don't buy holiday insurance from them.
All tour operators and travel organisers selling air holidays and flights must be bonded or protect the prepayments they hold. That means if they go bust before you travel, you should get your money back or, if you are already abroad, you'll be able to complete your holiday and get home without any extra payments. Tour operators and travel organisers selling air holidays and flights must protect their customers by holding an ATOL (Air Travel Organisers' Licence) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. Holidays using other forms of transport are protected by a range of organisations including ABTA and AITO, your invoice from your tour operator is your proof of ATOL protection so keep it safe and take it with you in case you need to prove that you are covered.
It is becoming increasingly popular for holiday makers to put together their own arrangements, perhaps by combining flights and accommodation that they have found on the web. This can be a good value way to organise a holiday suited exactly to your needs, but independent travellers should be aware that you do not benefit from the same protection as people booking packages. If the airline or hotel goes out of business alternative arrangements will not be made on your behalf and you may need to book a hotel or do some extra travel at one or both ends of your journey you will have to pay for and make these arrangements yourself and you are unlikely to receive compensation. Any problems with part of the holiday have to be sorted out directly with the supplier of the service.
If an airline you were flying with were to go bust you may be entitled to a part or full refund if you booked your original flight with a company other than the airline you were travelling with, contact them before buying replacement flights or if you paid using a credit card as detailed in the next section, alternatively if you paid money to an airline that has gone into administration, you can try claiming from the appointed administrator. You may be able to get their details from the airline's website or from the Air transport Users Council you can also use this link for more advice about what to do when a company goes into administration
Independent travellers should check their own insurance cover to see how they will be protected in the event of any of their individual arrangements failing, some policies cover airline failure usually by including Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) however, many policies don't include SAFI and some insurance providers exclude particular airlines so it's best to check the terms and conditions of your policy.
Paying for your holiday
There are advantages to paying for your holiday by credit card. If it is disappointing because it was wrongly described or you did not get what you paid for, you may be able to claim against the credit company as well as the tour operator where the contract is made in England, Wales or Scotland.
A court decision in October 2007 means most payments made by credit card directly to overseas suppliers may be covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which makes the credit card company equally liable for poor goods or services. This means that in some instances you will be able to claim against your credit card issuer if things go wrong. Some credit card companies may be prepared to continue to honour section 75 on a limited basis and we would therefore advise you to check whether your card company will be responsible for payments made to overseas suppliers before paying by credit card.
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- Consumer Direct