Thursday, 30 April 2009

Many holidaymakers unaware of financial risks survey shows

One in ten travellers wrongly believe they will always get a free flights home if their holiday company or airline goes bust, according to a YouGov survey organised by the Department for Transport.

And 28% percent of assume their travel insurance automatically covers them if they book flights directly with an airline when some policies do not include such protection.

Two thirds (66%) know that if they book an trip with a company holding an ATOL (air travel organiser's licence) they will get their money back and - of they are abroad when the firm goes under - be brought home at no extra cost. But a surprising 30% are unaware of this protection.

Younger people (aged 18-34) tend to have less understanding of their rights and options for financial protection than those aged over 35, the survey found.

It suggests almost one third of holiday travellers could be vulnerable if an airline of other company essential to their trip collapsed. The problem has been made more cut by the fact that so many people - 55% says the survey - now organise their trips on line. They may not realise that when they click through from one site to another - from an airline to a hotel or car hire site for example - they may not be booking an ATOL protected package.

The Government is urging travellers to think more carefully about financial protection. It is offering further advice at www.direct.gov.uk/holidayprotection It has been prompted to concentrate on the issue partly by last year's XL collapse, when Ministers were keen that unprotected travellers should not be left stranded but should be brought home along with those who had travelled under the ATOL scheme provided they repay the cost later. The Civil Aviation Authority, which arranges such bail outs, has been trying to get the money back from these passengers -but it is not always easy.

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