We’ve told you before that ATOL protection applies to package holidays, for example if a service provider such as an airline ceases trading, ATOL will protect you by covering replacement flights and/or the unused portion of your accommodation.
Which?’ Consumer Protection reminds its readers that, “By law you have the right to expect the holiday which you booked and paid for matches the description given to you when you bought it. So, pay careful attention to how the package holiday is described by your travel agent, in the brochure or a website.”
“If the holiday doesn’t match how it was described,” explains Which?’s website, “The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018 – which implement the EU’s Package Travel Directive 2015 – give you the right to ask your tour operator to put it right, and if it’s unable to – claim compensation.”
NB: Even if you have ATOL protection, you still need travel insurance – ATOL won’t cover critical things like health, acts of terrorism, etc.
If you have already booked
For all bookings made prior to 1 July 2018, the old definition of package travel still applies. This means two main components were booked at the same time (usually flights and accommodation, and/or another main component of the trip, through one supplier.
This generally included package holidays booked through travel agents and tour operators.
As of 1 July, the definition of “Package Travel” has expanded, and will provide protection to millions more people when they make their travel arrangements.
Which? sums up the new regulations by saying, “If your holiday looked like a package deal when you bought it – it probably is.”
According to Politico.eu, the new definitions mean that: “Not only fully pre-packaged tours purchased from single tour operators, but also combinations of flights and hotels that travelers combine on their own while booking online. Under the new rules, an airline selling flights and hotel accommodations on its site would be subject to the same rules as a tour operator selling the same combination.”
So it’s a package if:
- It combines at least 2 different travel services (e.g. flights and accommodation) for a single trip, which you purchase through one agent, website, or service provider.
- This applies if the services are combined by a single trader (such as a travel agent) or if you purchase from a single point of sale and select/agree to all elements before paying – e.g. booking flights, accommodation and car hire through a budget airline website.
- It doesn’t matter if there are separate contracts with the hotel/airline/other supplier, as long as you book and pay through one provider/website.
- It’s still a package if you purchase one part of your holiday, e.g. flights, conclude the contract, and then the same service provider includes or gets you to choose another element of the holiday, such as an excursion.
- If a trip is advertised as a package, inclusive deal, or similar terminology is used, it counts as a package.
Remember, your booking only needs to fall under one of these categories to qualify for protection.
Linked Travel Arrangements (LTA)
This new category applies when you purchase different elements of your holiday from the same trader/agent, but through different transactions.
If you book and pay for accommodation via a website, and then that website directs you to flight options which you then book as well, you’ll have an LTA rather than a package.
It also applies if you buy one element of a holiday through a travel agent or other trader and they then offer you other options as a follow-up, but for the most part, LTAs cover online bookings that don’t fall under the new definition of packages.
Please note that an LTA covers far less than package travel protection. Insolvency of a service provider is only covered for the first leg of the journey, and only until the agent/trader through whom you made the purchase has paid the money through to the service provider.
When you book any travel from now on, always check whether you’re booking package travel, an LTA, or if neither applies – and don’t forget your travel insurance!