There are a number of ways to ensure you enjoy your holiday and keep your payment safe, all you need to do is ensure your holiday is booked through a reputable travel operator who should offer you the below safe guards. Below is an explanation to some of the jargon which you need to know to protect yourself and your holiday.
ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) provide their tour operator members with protection against the failure of a member travel agent, but no direct protection to the consumer as such.
CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) ATOL scheme offers protection for travellers who book with ATOL members, however as the failure of the XL airline in summer 2008 showed, such protection is not nearly as clear as it seems and many people who thought they were protected under the scheme were left disillusioned and out of pocket.
If you pay for your holiday by credit card, then under the consumer Credit act 1974, you are probably protected in the event of a travel company going bust. However, this protection applies only to credit cards, and not to debit cards, such as Maestro and Visa Delta.
Some travel agents these days insist that they don’t necessarily sell you a ‘package holiday’, but sell most of their arrangements on a split contract basis i.e. all elements of the holiday you book are deemed to be contracted (by you) directly with the individual suppliers of the elements of your holiday. If any of these individual providers fail, then your claim is deemed to be against that individual supplier and not the agent through whom you booked the arrangement.
If you book directly with a schedule airline, and that airline goes bust, your financial protection is very limited or nil.
Trust accounts are operated by a number of travel organisations and afford some protection for the traveller in that they don’t pay your money over to the suppliers until you have travelled, however, if the company operating the trust goes bust before you travel, it is then up to the trustees which creditors are paid out of the remaining monies in the trust fund.