How to book your next holiday with confidence

Unfortunately cruise specialist All Leisure Holidays went bust over Christmas leaving its passengers high and dry. However all passengers will receive full refunds because the company was protected by ATOL. Use these expert tips to ensure you'll get your money back if something goes wrong.

Check a company is ATOL protected

Check that whoever you are booking with is ATOL protected. By law, every UK travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an ATOL (Air Travel Organiser's Licence).

If a travel company with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects customers who had booked holidays with the firm, ensuring they don’t get stranded abroad or lose money.

Package holiday protection

Package holidays, where you book everything such as flight, car hire and hotel through one operator are better protected than booking each element yourself.

Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992, you can claim for compensation if your dream hotel or villa doesn’t match the description advertised. Also, if you have problems with your car hire, flights or any services booked through the package tour operator, you are also covered by these regulations.

Booking directly

What if I booked my flights and hotel directly? Holidaymakers who book their flights, hotel, car hire or transfers directly cannot claim under the Package Tour Regulations instead you would need to contact each company directly.

If you need to complain to an airline or hotel always be as detailed as possible; follow their complaints procedure and make sure everything is in writing, giving as much information as possible. Whenever you experience problems of this nature, always keep a record of dates, times and the names of people you spoke to.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that by booking a flight and a hotel with the same website such as Expedia, and TripAdvisor means that you are booking a package holiday.  If phrases are used such as ‘tailor-made holiday’ or ‘fight plus hotel’ these holiday may not be packages. Check the small print. If you have separate contracts with the airline and the accommodation provider it is not a package holiday.

Read how to protect yourself from online holiday scams.

Credit card cover

Booking with a credit card gives you extra protection as both the credit card company and retailer will be held responsible. Find out the best rewards credit cards to use on holiday.

Buy insurance

Finally, never travel without insurance and avoid booking your travel insurance through a company that is also providing elements of your holiday. Your chances of success will be limited if the same company providing the insurance is the one you are seeking compensation from. Use our essential guide to buying the right travel insurance.

Thanks to Leticia Williams, partner at London law firm Hodge Jones & Allen.

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