Book holidays SAFELY- ATOL & ABTA

This post looks at basic trip payment protection. How do you protect your trip from unforeseen circumstances; what are the options you have? Travel Radar Media take an in-depth look!


There’s lots of information posted online about Trip payment protection. A lot of it is confusing. I’ve tried to dissect the best of these articles from the most reliable sources and make head and tail of it here.

The links to the most reliable, up to date articles and blogs are at the end of the post. If you click on the links you can see my blog is supported by reliable resources.

We will look at:

  1. Intro to ATOL and ABTA
  2. ATOL general Information
  3. Package holidays and ATOL protection
  4. Flight plus Holidays and ATOL Protection
  5. Click Through holiday bookings and ATOL Protection
  6. Linked Travel Arrangements and ATOL Protection
  7. Benefits of having ATOL Protection
  8. Flight Only Bookings
  9. ABTA Trip Protection Payment
  10. Building your own Trip using separate components
  11. Travel Insurance
  12. use of credit card as Majorca Trip Payment Protection
  13. use of debit card as Majorca Trip Payment Protection
  14. Summary of Majorca Trip Payment Protection Article

ATOL and ABTA- The Two Main Topics

ATOL and ABTA are topics that are covered a lot online. Both these have plenty of conflicting, confusing information written about them. I’ve looked at the best articles I can find online and tried to sort out the facts here

Neither ATOL and ABTA are ‘Trip Protection Payment Plans’ that you take out separately when you book a trip. The high street travel agent or online booking agent either possess one or both of these licences or they don’t. And if the company you choose to book with does have the licence, there are still rules you have to follow in order to be covered by them

Generally speaking ATOL protection relates to flights; ABTA protection relates to accommodation bookings. Although you are legally obliged to be brought home under ABTA protection if things go wrong when you are abroad. So technically there is a bit of a cross over of the two

ATOL: Trip Payment Protection

ATOL stands for Air Travel Organisers Licencing. ATOL is a government-run financial protection scheme operated and managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The scheme is designed to protect flights and air-based holidays.

Just because you see the ATOL protection logo on a website don’t automatically assume the website offers you ATOL trip payment protection. Check the company out at the Civil Aviation’s website to be sure they are bona-fida

Enter the company name and licence number to see if they’re genuine

The official ATOL logo
(Above) The ATOL Protected logo. Look for this logo if you want ATOL protection

If your holiday provider holds an ATOL licence, they’ll be able to provide you with your ATOL certificate once you’ve booked your trip. It can be at the shop, or through the wesite via email. Check with the agent that they are able to provide you with your ATOL certificate. If in doubt, do this before paying before paying

Guidelines for booking an ATOL protected Trip

Asides form the company holding a genuine ATOL licence, you have to follow certain protocol to be ATOL protected
The trip has to be purchased in the UK and consist of two components. One  MUST BE A FLIGHT and the other component can either be accommodation or car hire. Both components have to be booked with the same company or on the same website. They must also be booked within a certain time frame to qualify for ATOL protection. These are the basic rules when it comes to being covered by ATOL trip payment protection.

Only package holidays qualify for ATOL protection

Package holidays have always offered the best form of protection as far as ATOL legislation goes and still do. All travel firms selling air-based holiday packages must by law have an ATOL licence. Packages are the only category of holidays that can get ATOL protection.

TUI, one of the UK’s leading high street and online agent, is a solid example of a company providing package holidays. Same goes for Thomas Cook. Traditionally the flight and the holiday are booked together at the same time.

Recent laws have changed how a package holiday is defined

A new law introduced on July 1st 2018 means ATOL protects your trip beyond the formal, standard package holiday. This works in the consumer’s favour; you just have to know the right way of booking your trip


What has changed since July 1st 2018 is the legal definition of the word ‘package’. You, the consumer now have more options of how you can book a package holiday. You do need to be clear on these options though if you want to be sure of ATOL protection

‘Flight Plus holidays’ and ‘click through’ trips are now defined as package holidays too. For a holiday to fall under either of these terms it must be  booked in a certain manner and timeframe

Explanation of how to book a flight + holiday

A flight plus holiday sometimes called an air-based holiday, is a flight booking plus either an accommodation booking or a car hire booking. You have to book both components within a certain timeframe and in a certain way to be defined as a package holiday. Look for travel websites giving the ‘flight plus accommodation’ option in the menu bar at the top of the website’s home page

Guidelines for the manner a ‘flight plus holiday’ should be booked in

Besides the company holding a valid ATOL licence and one of the components of the package holiday being a flight, other criteria to be ATOL protected are:

    • The components must be booked through a booking or travel agent the same travel agent rather than directly with the supplier of the flight or accommodation themselves

Thomas Cook and TUI are both examples of an agent selling packages. EasyJet also enables you to book a package holiday all at once under the ‘holidays’ section on the top menu of their website. Similar airlines including Emirates & Ryanair (Just to name a few) allow this also.

  1. The holiday components have to be booked with the same company to get ATOL protection
  2. All holiday components must be booked together at the same time OR within 24 hours of each other to qualify for ATOL protection

An example of booking a flight plus holiday

Booking .com has a flight plus hotel option on their main menu at the top of the page. Click this option on the menu bar. Choose a flight, pick your accommodation, click and pay. Hey presto, you’ve booked yourself a ‘Flight  Plus’ holiday. Booking all holiday components simultaneously like this is probably the easiest way of saving time in getting ATOL protection is an agent that advertises and sells flights, accommodations etc on behalf of other companies and individuals. Within the package you purchase from them, The flight you buy off them may be from one company and the accommodation from another company. This is OK though in terms of ATOL protection. As long as the components are all booked from the same booking agent

In this example of booking your holiday package through you have followed correct protocol for being ATOL protected. This is because

  • holds a valid ATOL licence when using their flight + hotel option
  • You booked  two trip components via the same holiday provider company/
  • You booked both components at the same time or within the allowed 24 hours


Example of booking a ‘Click-Through Package’

Imagine you just book your flight on The Travel Republic Website
You open your Email with your flight booking conformation that has just sent you. In this Email they have provided a link to hotels they sell. You click on the link and have a quick look
‘Wow, that hotel looks good value’ you think. That’s decided then ‘I’ll book this’ THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF A CLICK-THROUGH You weren’t going to book your accommodation yet but a hotel takes your fancy and you ‘click through’ to book it

Pay attention to the time-frame when booking your accommodation as an after-thought in order to be ATOL protected

The ‘click Through’ is the type of holiday that you have to beware of the time-frame rules. That is if you want it to be protected by ATOL legislation

For example – When you booked your return flight with Travel Republic online booking agent, it was advertised at a great price. You thought ‘I’ll get this now it may not be around tomorrow’ You intend to book your accommodation at a later date when you have got more time.

The thing is you can’t leave it too much later if you want to be covered by either ATOL.

Some internet posts say that the longest gap you can leave between booking your other travel component is just over a day. For example, they say if the flight is booked on Tuesday morning, the accommodation or car hire has to be booked by the end of Wednesday
Other information states that the two components have to be booked within 24 hours to qualify for ATOL protection. I’m keeping with the strict 24 hour guideline to be on the safe side

IT DOESN’T MATTER IN WHICH ORDER YOU BOOKED YOUR TRAVEL COMPONENTS SO LONG AS ONE OF THE COMPONENTS IS A FLIGHT. It makes sense to book the flight first THOUGH so you’ll feel confident that you’ll actually be able to actually get to the location you want to book the accommodation only to find no flights are available!

Make sure one of your components is recognised by the other

If this is a real life scenario, phone up and make the booking with someone personally over the phone. All reputable online agents selling holidays have a local rate number in the UK (Watch out for this!)

The phone call or at least an email is necessary to make sure the website you booked your original travel component with recognises you are making the 2nd booking with them.

A ‘click through’ booking offers ATOL trip cover and is also classed as ‘package’ so make sure you get your protection. Don’t lose it because you’ve not followed the timeframe guidelines or because of an admin error at the company

Formal jargon found online states that a click-through package is defined as follows:

The holiday is classed as a ‘click through’ package as long as the first service provider transmits the customer’s name, email address and payment details to the second provider and the second contract is concluded within 24 hours of the first contract

Follow the above protocol and any bookings for excursions or attractions are also protected with the same website or high street store!

Linked Travel Arrangement

If  no transfer is made of the customer’s details between the first and second booking (as described in the ‘click through’ definition above), the booking is what’s known as a ‘Linked travel arrangement’

The formal definition of a ‘Linked Travel Arrangement’ goes like this:

‘One trader facilitates the booking of the subsequent service(s), and they are purchased for the purpose of the same trip or holiday’

Confusing, eh? It sounds like the definition I’ve just given of a click-through

The difference in this case is that the 2nd booking is not recognised by the first booking or visa versa and you have to re-enter your personal and payment details, your booking becomes a linked travel arrangement. This is why it’s best to phone up when you want to add a second booking to your first

Protection for ‘linked Travel Arrangements is slightly Different

The protection for Linked Travel Arrangements’ isn’t as strong as for ‘Click-Throughs’.

Linked Travel Arrangements aren’t covered by ATOL but do benefit from other insolvency protections. Thit means if a company you bought one of your holiday components from goes bust, you’ll get your money back.

With linked holidays as opposed to package holidays, you only get financial protection – so you’re protected if the firm organising either of your trip component goes bust, but not if something else goes wrong.


If you’re confused with the differences between flight + holidays, click-through packages and linked travel arrangements, don’t worry it is confusing.

The articles by the legal experts can be just as baffling, especially unravelling the legal jargon
Have a look at the links at the foot of this post. Some articles I’ve read seem to give conflicting views between authors. I’ve just tried to relay the overall picture to you in my article here.

If you want guaranteed ATOL protection for your overall holiday package then stick to booking a traditional package or ‘flight + hotel’ as described above. Book all components at the same time to keep things straightforward and less time consuming

Trip Companies are legally required to tell you what type of holiday you are buying

Never fear though because travel companies have to provide you with precise information about the type holiday you’re buying. The travel company must tell you up front if you’re buying a package holiday or a linked travel arrangement. Ask before you buy if they are not forth coming with this information. And ask them to print you off the ATOL certificate for you or at least send it to you via Email

What are the benefits of having Trip Payment Protection with ATOL

ATOL covers you for a full financial protection if the Tour Operator can’t fulfil its obligation.

ATOL trip Financial protection means you are entitled to a refund or to be brought home if  the travel company organising your package goes out of business. You’re also protected if components of the holiday aren’t provided as advertised.If your holiday does not meet it’s description and reasonable expectations you are entitled to alternative accommodation so you can continue to enjoy your holiday.

What you get from ATOL if something goes wrong with your trip

ATOL offers you a full refund or you can choose replacement travel on dates to suit you if the FCO advises against travel for all but essential trips

If bad weather means your holiday can’t happen, under ATOL legislation you’ll get a refund or can choose to reschedule

If your Tour Company goes out of business you’ll be entitled to a full refund and repatriation under ATOL legislation.

Along with this, you are entitled to legal protection against problems that arise from your holiday.

ATOL Regulations only apply to packages/trips sold or offered for sale in the UK and that you book within the current ATOL guidelines

In the case of having to call on your ATOL Protection

Imagine just one part of the holiday goes bust, that is just the flight or just the accommodation provider. This means it’s NOT the holiday company that sold you the component on the provider’s behalf. In this case it is the holiday company you go to for the refund

What happens if I have ATOL protection and the Holiday Company goes bust that I booked both my flight and  accommodation with?

You go to the civil aviation authority for your repatriation. This applies only if there was no media evidence of this companies imminent administration at the time of booking.

The CAA will do everything possible to ensure you can finish and enjoy your trip without disruption

CAA logo.
CAA for Trip Payment Protection see the link right below for help with claims and other ATOL information

If you have any difficulties while abroad, call the CAA on +44 (0) 333 103 6350. They will explain the situation and discuss your options.

Print and Take your ATOL certificate on holiday with you

Print your ATOL Certificate and take it on your trip with you. Make sure you read it to have an idea of the terms of your trip ‘s financial protection. Take any bank document showing payment or make sure you have access to internet banking. This way, if you get into any bother you have all the relevant documents that cover you to hand.

Civil Aviation Authority’s advice re: having to make a claim through ATOL


Other than flying you home if your airline goes bust ATOL is NOT a financial protection scheme. ATOL does not provide other assistance if there are other problems with your holiday regarding accommodation. This is where ABTA comes in.

You may need extra funds to see you through in terms of accommodation. You will get refunded eventually but it can take months to get a refund after you make your claim.

Also, the accommodation options in the ‘packages’ available to book through the ATOL protection scheme are not always the most unique.

Tailor Made Trips

If you book all of your travel arrangements separately, you’re unlikely to have any financial or legal protection under the 2018 package travel regulations that ATOL and ABTA provide

Say You decide to mix and match your holiday components and book your flights and accommodation with different companies. Your holiday won’t be covered by ATOL or ABTA protection in this case.

Don’t let this put you off tailor making your trip.  By all means use different websites to book flights, accommodation, car hire etc. Just make sure you read about how to
use your credit and debit cards correctly to offer you Trip Protection. This is so you will be entitled to money back should things go wrong.

Don’t let this put you off building your trip in your own way though. That is if a holiday that is more unique appeals to you. There is still a case for building your own  Trip using separate components yet still having trip financial protection

You do still need to be aware of the hard facts though so read on

Flight Only bookings

Scheduled Flights

A scheduled flight is booked directly with the airline by the customer and your contract is with the airline. A scheduled flight is not covered automatically by ATOL protection

Booking a scheduled flight direct with the direct supplier or even through an agent


Chartered Flights

You (the customer) buys your flight via the holiday company instead of the airline-it’s like an indirect booking. The booking agent reserves the aircrafts through the airline selling them on to their customers. Like when you book your flight via Travel Republic or This is an example of a chartered flight booking
Chartered flights booked separately are sometimes covered under the ATOL scheme but you should always check because this is not an automatic thing
The flight you will have bought as part of your package trip, discussed earlier under the ATOL section will be a chartered flight. This is because you purchased it via a booking agent. You don’t have to worry in this case though. Because as already discussed, your package is covered under the ATOL scheme if you stuck to correct protocol when booking


Understanding ABTA

ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents

you have the benefits of ABTA trip payment protection with this logo
This logo indicates company is a member of ABTA and you have their Trip Payment Protection if you book the correct way

ABTA Trip Payment Protection

The ABTA scheme of financial protection is in place to protect you for land or sea based holiday. Land and sea based holidays include coach, train and cruise holidays rather than air-based holidays. These must be booked through a registered ABTA member

With ABTA protection, you are entitled to a full refund should your Tour Company seize to trade and cannot fulfil its obligation. If you are abroad, you will receive accommodation and transport costs for your journey home.

ABTA’s strict code of conduct

Whether the agent is on the high street or online, if they’re a member of ABTA they are bound to comply with the ABTA Code of Conduct, which ensures high service standards and fair terms of trading

Laws relating to your holiday’s trade description are the same as they’ve always been: travel companies are responsible for ensuring customers get the package holiday they paid for.

ABTA legislation was also revised on July 1st 2018 to cover and ‘click-throughs’ (click link for how to book)

You will be offered an alternative or given a full or partial refund if something isn’t provided or as expected. Travel companies or suppliers must resolve the issue if it’s their fault.

Under the ABTA code a suitable alternative of accommodation must be offered if building works will seriously impair your holiday. This is instead of compensation.

Under ABTA if there are serious flight delays and you decide you don’t want to travel you are entitled to a financial refund. You are entitled to this anyway under EU legislation.

Some ABTA Members do protect their non-package sales such as accommodation-only sales but this is not a legal requirement. Check with your travel company what their stand on this is.

Companies are obliged under the ABTA scheme to tell you whether a holiday is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility if you request it, and precise information should be given about the suitability of the holiday for you (which should take into account your required needs)

Situations when you are automatically protected without ATOL or ABTA cover

Fortunately EU legislation introduced over the last few years, you’re entitled to a refund or alternative transport to your destination if your flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. This applies only to flights that set off from or land at an EU airport on an EU carrier. You should also be entitled to free meals and refreshments if you have been stranded somewhere whilst waiting for a delayed flight.

Other ways you can financially protect your trip if you don’t have either ATOL or ABTA Trip Protection

for trip protection use no cash
(Above) Avoid using cash when booking trip components separately

Avoid using cash when booking trip components separately

Travel Insurance for Trip Payment Protection

Everyone should take out travel insurance before going abroad at least for health protection. Most travel insurance policy cover you for delays, cancellations and medical costs. But Policies DON’T automatically offer you financial trip payment protection if your Tour Operator or Travel Agent go out of business.

There are however policies that include specific clauses you need for trip payment protection.

The obvious clauses are airline failure insurance and holiday supplier failure. You do not always need to worry about this though.

Standalone airline failure insurance

As long as you’re flying within the EU (leaving/landing at an EU airport) EU regulations state you must be given compensation if a flight can’t go ahead due to the fault of the airline.

This is by no means always the case so read the small print of your airline provider

To find insurance companies providing airline failure insurance contact ABTA itself or contact dedicated holiday insurance provider such as

Insurance Policy clauses you can add to your travel insurance

  • Cover for missed flights through no fault of your own (often called ‘missed departure’)
  • Cover for trip cancellation or put on hold due to strike action, a natural catastrophe
  • Cover for breakdown of your plane, train, coach, or bus

Take out Travel Insurance as soon as you book your trip!

One of the most important things to do regarding travel insurance is to buy it as soon as you have booked your trip. Otherwise if the company goes bust the day after you book, you won’t be covered in the event of supplier failure. This is because you failed to cover yourself before it happened.

Same goes if you get ill and can’t travel. If you hadn’t taken out appropriate insurance and then get ill you can’t claim off the insurance. Dates have to tie up when claiming off your travel insurance.

Marks and Spencer and AXA, for example, both offer Travel insurance Policies

Trip Payment Protection through use of Credit Card

It is not all doom and gloom. If your flight or accommodation isn’t covered by ATOL or ABTA, you can use
section 75 of the credit card consumer act to fall back on.

If you have tailor made you trip using components from different websites separately, book directly with the flight/accommodation/car hire supplier rather than on a travel website that works on behalf of them.

For example, booking directly with EasyJet, British Airways, Ryanair (All direct flight suppliers) – Otherwise the section 75 clause may not cover your payment.

Only use section 75 if you aren’t covered under ATOL or ABTA or travel insurance. IT’S THE BEST COVER WHEN YOU’VE TAILOR MADE YOUR OWN HOLIDAY!

Section 75 only covers your flight or accommodation if you book directly with the flight company or with the owner of the accommodation. This means not booking through a third party such booking agent selling the flight or accommodation on behalf of someone. Examples of a third party site is Expedia or Opodo

So in other words, if you have booked your trip through a ‘middle man’ (a travel or booking agent) make sure you’ve booked with an ATOL or ABTA protected agent. This will offer all the benefits discussed above offered by having their protections.

credit mastercard
(Above) No ATOL or ABTA protection? Stick larger amounts on credit card

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Card Act

… states that Credit Card Firms are liable with retailers if something goes wrong. The clause covers single items that cost more than £100.

Supposing two of you are travelling to Majorca.  Your outbound flights were £55 each and your return flights were £100 each. You stick the whole lot on your credit card for a total of £310. Unfortunately only the flights home are covered under this clause because each of these flights qualified for the refund under the £100 minimum spend rule

If you pay on credit card, don’t forget to pay it off in full at the end of the month if at all possible so you’re not charged interest. Otherwise your trip may end up costing you more

In this situation you would contact your bank to sort out the situation; your bank may contact you first if they recognise on your transactions that you booked a recent flight or hotel with a company that has just gone bust

Trip Payment Protection through use of Debit Card (chargeback system)

You still have a chance of getting money back for components of your trip less than £100, if you have paid by debit card.

Unlike Section 75 it’s not enshrined in law, but it’s a scheme most high street banks subscribe to (Mastercard or Visa debit most likely). That is  if you spent less than £100 on a debit or credit card.

The chargeback scheme is a system that lets you ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your card where your bank gets cashback from the relevant companies processing bank

debit card for Majorca Trip Protection
(Above) Use debit card for single items of £100 or less

Claiming money back with your bank from spending on credit or debit card

Make a clear record of when you first heard about or discovered the administration.  You have a deadline of 120 days to contact your bank and register your claim

You have no Trip Payment protection if you paid for your trip using cash, cheque, pre-paid card or bank transfer and if your ‘package’ isn’t covered by ATOL or ABTA


A Summary

Package Holidays continue offer the best Trip payment protection as far as ATOL and ABTA cover goes. Good news! Flight + holiday packages  and ‘click throughs’ booked in the correct manner are now classed as packages too

Websites that provide both ATOL and ABTA protection are TUI and Travel Republic. There are plenty of others out there. Of course you have to book within the guidelines above to be covered by them.

ATOL and ABTA are not the only ways of getting Trip Payment Protection

The clauses in your Travel insurance policy you need to look out for are ‘Airline Supplier Failure’ and ‘Holiday Supplier Failure’


The mix and match approach can result in the best holidays-not following anyone else’s protocol but your own!
Just make sure you stick the right amounts of trip payments on the correct type of either credit or debit card. Or else have the right type of Travel Insurance

Don’t forget to choose which type of card to use depending on whether the amount you pay is over or under £100.00.This is in order to be covered appropriately by either section 75 of the Consumer Credit card Act or by the chargeback system.

Enjoyed this article? Get in touch with your thoughts! I am keen to hear them: [email protected] or drop a comment down below!

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