Financial protection of holidays more important due to Covid – survey

Three out of four consumers believe the coronavirus pandemic has made it more important that holidays are financially protected, a new survey suggests.

Some 74% of respondents to a survey of 3,502 people on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the virus crisis has increased the significance of bookings being registered under the aviation regulator’s Atol scheme.

Many people have faced difficulties obtaining refunds for trips cancelled during the pandemic.

© Provided by The Independent The collapse of Thomas Cook led to a surge in claims under the Atol scheme (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

Package holidays bought in the UK, such as those involving flights and accommodation in a single booking, are protected under the Atol scheme.

This means if a travel company goes bust, consumers are entitled to either a full refund if their holiday has not started, or accommodation costs and flights home if they are abroad.

About 340,000 claims totalling around £350 million were made following the collapse of Thomas Cook in September 2019.

Holiday companies are also legally obliged to refund holidays in full within 14 days of a cancellation under the 2018 package travel regulations.

Michael Budge, head of Atol, said: “With many travellers considering Atol protection more important since the pandemic, we want to make sure consumers are aware of the financial protection that Atol provides.

“Whilst travel has not yet normalised, we’re asking holidaymakers to make smart decisions for their well-earned breaks by booking Atol-protected trips.”

Travel companies traditionally experience a surge in demand every January when many people book their summer holidays.

Travel editor of Which? Rory Boland said: “The huge disruption to travel plans over recent months is a stark reminder that anyone booking a holiday abroad during the pandemic should ensure their trips are financially protected through schemes like Atol.

“Travellers considering a holiday should only book with companies that guarantee in their flexible booking terms that they will be able to get all of your money back if disruption should strike. A good travel insurance policy will continue to be essential, and it’s also advisable to book with a credit card to give yourself further protection.”

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