The difference between ABTA and ATOL and how they protect your holiday bookings

THE UK's biggest travel trade association has issued advice to Brits worried about travelling after Brexit.

Here's the latest on ABTA and how the body, along with ATOL, can offer protection against any holiday mishaps.

What is ABTA and how is it different to ATOL?

ABTA, standing for Association of British Travel Agents and ATOL, Air Travel Organiser's Licence, cover different kinds of holidays.

They both offer forms of protection against a provider going into administration or if the holiday is mis-sold.

They cover different holiday packages depending on the type of transportation included.

Before booking, travellers should always check to see if their holiday provider is ABTA or ATOL protected.

What has ABTA said about Brexit?

ABTA has sought to reassure British travellers who are planning to travel to the EU in the coming months.

The body says that if a deal is agreed we will enter a transition period, meaning everything flying will stay the same until the end of December 2020.

On March 14, ABTA confirmed that even in a No Deal scenario, flights will still opertae between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

The UK government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines.

Ferries, cruises and coaches should all operate as normal.

Train journeys aren't expected to be affected either, though ABTA encourages those travelling to check with their travel company in advance.

Even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa, providing the same is offered to European citizens visiting the UK.

From 2021 Brits will need to pay a fee of around seven euros for this visa exemption that's applicable to all third country visitors to the EU.

Travel insurance is highly recommended.

For up to date information, visit

Both the UK and the EU have confirmed that, even in the event of a no-deal, flights will still operate between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

What is the difference between ABTA and ATOL protection?

ATOL-protected holidays are package holidays that include flights.

For example, Monarch Holidays customers were protected when the airline went bust in 2017 because they had booked flights and a holiday together through a provider with ATOL certification.

However, ABTA protection only covers holidays that involve rail, cruise or self-drive but no flying.

This means that if a cruise holiday was mis-sold, for example, then ABTA would be able to help rather than ATOL.

What does being ABTA protected mean?

ABTA offers two forms of protection – legal and financial.

Their legal protection means the company  is "making sure that you get the holiday you paid for".

So if you're mis-sold a package holiday, you might be able to get an alternative holiday or a refund as compensation through ABTA.

For example, if you are not told that there is building work going on at the hotel and it disrupts your holiday, you could apply for compensation.

However, ABTA are not able to help with matters concerning the behaviour of other guests, weather conditions, or holidays from over 18 months ago.

Financial protection is if the package provider goes into administration.

Customers who have not yet gone on the booked holiday will get a refund, while Brits who are already abroad will be brought home through ABTA.

What does an ATOL protected holiday mean?

ATOL protection applies to package holidays with flights only.

If an ATOL-certified travel company ceases trading, customers are protected for both their holiday and their flight.

If they are already on holiday, then they will be flown home through ATOL with repatriation flights.

If they are not, then they will be fully refunded.

Brits should always take out travel insurance, however, to cover everything else on their trip.

Declaring all medication and health problems is important otherwise it could make the protection void.

A woman has been left stranded in Mexico after she bought travel insurance but did not declare previous medicine.

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