ATOL – Protecting holidaymakers since 1973
The law says your holiday must be protected if it is a package holiday. ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) is a UK financial protection scheme and it protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are based in the UK. The scheme also applies to some flight bookings, usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately.
ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After a number of high profile travel business failures left people stranded overseas the UK Government realised consumers required protection when their travel providers fell into difficulties. ATOL currently protects around 20 million holidaymakers and travellers each year.
If a travel business with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects consumers who had booked holidays with the firm. It ensures consumers can return home and do not lose their money.
The scheme is designed to reassure consumers that their money is safe, and will provide assistance in the event of a travel business failure.
Funding and administration
ATOL is run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It is funded by contributions from ATOL holders, who must pay £2.50 into the schemes back up fund, the Air Travel Trust, for each person they book on a holiday.
This money creates a fund that is used by the CAA to ensure consumers either complete their holiday or – if they cannot get away – receive a full refund.
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