ABTA protection explained

Discover how ABTA protection could save your bacon on holiday.

You could well have never heard of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA); however, over the last decade, they’ve paid out millions to holiday makers in trouble.

When travel agents go bankrupt, it can leave people out of pocket or even stranded abroad. Yet ABTA offers protections against this. So if you’re jetting off after booking a trip through an agent, find out a bit more about how ABTA works and how it could protect you.

What is ABTA protection?

ABTA offers protection to millions of holiday makers every year. Should you book a holiday through a travel agent that is part of ABTA, you can expect to get advice from the association should you have any difficulties.

Plus, ABTA demands its members hold themselves to high professional standards, so they should be financially sound (in theory). If not, though, ABTA can offer you financial protection if your agent goes bust.

What protection does ABTA provide?

All package holidays and “flight plus” holidays sold to you in the European Economic Area by ABTA members are financially protected by the ABTA scheme.

So if your company goes bankrupt, you’ll be able to continue your holiday as planned or get a refund.

Many ABTA members offer further protections as well, such as for hotels or flights, which you may not be automatically protected for with the standard ABTA scheme.

What is not covered?

While ABTA protection can be a comfort when travelling, you shouldn’t think of it as a substitute for travel insurance. Here are a few areas it won’t cover.

  • Medical cover. Should you need treatment abroad then it’s vital you have travel insurance, otherwise the medical bills could drain your wallet fast, and ABTA can’t help in this instance.
  • Luggage and belongings. ABTA doesn’t protect you if your personal possessions are stolen, damaged or go missing. Standard travel insurance will, at the very least, cover some of the costs.
  • Cancellation. Should you need to cancel your holiday due to unforeseen circumstances, ABTA can’t help. For example, if you have travel insurance and you need to have an urgent operation, your travel insurance will refund any non-refundable fees, such as flights and accommodation.

    What is the difference between ABTA and ATOL protection?

    ATOL protection is the Air Travel Organisers’ License scheme, which can protect you if you book a flight-based package holiday through a travel operator – and that said company then goes bust.

    Much like with ABTA, the ATOL scheme helps customers get a refund if they haven’t set off yet. If they’re stranded abroad, it allows them to finish their holiday before giving them a hand getting home.

    However, it only protects you for flight-based holidays, while ABTA deals with rail, cruise and self-drive trips too.

    Another key difference is ATOL will only help with financial assistance, while ABTA offers disgruntled customers a way to raise any problems on the holiday.

    They can use ABTA’s independent complaints and arbitration service if they have issues with their travel company.

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