Local MP stresses holiday caution

Angus MP Mike Weir is urging Angus folk to pack peace of mind when purchasing their holidays this year, by making sure they book an ATOL-protected trip.

The ATOL scheme is there to protect people against the risk of their travel company going bust: ensuring they can continue their holiday and return home safely if the company collapses whilst they are away; or providing refunds if they’re yet to travel. And with over two million ATOL-protected air holidays expected to be sold in the UK during January - the scheme will give holidaymakers in Angus and across the country peace of mind that their hard earned holiday will not be lost.

During 2012, Parliament agreed two key changes to the scheme to widen protection and help people understand when they are protected. Holidays known by the industry as ‘Flight-Plus’ are now included in the scheme, as well as traditional package holidays. A ‘Flight-Plus’ booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are booked with the same company and within a day of each other.

The second change agreed by Parliament in 2012 saw the introduction of the ATOL certificate; offering consumers greater clarity on how their holiday is protected. Anyone who books an ATOL-protected trip will now receive an ATOL certificate from their travel company as soon as they make any payment. The certificate tells them what is protected, who is protecting it and what to do if something goes wrong.

Mr Weir said: “This month is often a prime time for booking overseas holidays to give something to look forward to in the dreich days of January.”

“Sadly in these difficult economic times we have seen, in recent years, several holiday firms go under, and witnessed the sometimes utter chaos as people loose holidays or are stranded overseas.”

“It can be utterly devastating to find that your holiday has been lost, but even worse to find that your hard earned money is gone as well.”

“It is vital that anyone who is booking a holiday is clear as to what is and is not protected. I would urge everyone in Angus to be sure of the position when booking their holidays this year.”

Anyone wishing to book an ATOL-protected air holiday can check if a company provides protection by looking for the ATOL logo on their promotional material, or searching the company’s name at www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk. More information about what’s covered by the scheme and how the ATOL certificate works is also available from this site.

Mr Weir is also advising people booking trips not covered by the ATOL scheme, such as those without flights or holidays booked directly with airlines, to seek alternative methods of protection such as insurance or paying with their credit card, which may give some protection.