With Britain’s 5th biggest airline (Monarch) going into liquidation in 2017. Ryanair cancelling over 400,000 seats by grounding 25 of their planes in 2018 due to pilot shortages. And now Thomas Cook going into liquidation causing the largest repatriation in UK history (165’000 for Thomas Cook vs 100’000 when Monarch collapsed) many people are now asking themselves, how safe are my holiday plans?
Unfortunately, whenever the airlines run into trouble like above, thousands of customers have their holiday plans completely ruined and considering a holiday is normally the single largest expense/luxury per household each year its comes as a real blow.
BUT SURELY CUSTOMERS WILL GET THEIR MONEY BACK?
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, many customers were totally unaware if they would be covered in such an event plus at the time of making holiday plans, it is normally the very last thing on peoples mind as we are already in holiday mode with the feel good factor and easily persuaded.
So What are the issues?
Firstly people who have booked directly with operators around the world and then booked separate travel arrangements with flight companies. These people have found out at short notice that their travel arrangements have been cancelled due to no fault of their own.
These people who cannot now arrive at their fishing/shooting destination as they booked direct with the operator, are finding out they will lose their booking and all money already paid, as it is no fault of the operator that you cannot arrive as planned/booked.
Secondly, people have booked the fishing / shooting through a booking agent in the UK and then booked their own flights as advised by the UK booking agent. Unfortunately, these people have found themselves in the same situation as the UK booking agent is saying they have no control over the flights and as they were booked direct with the airline there is nothing they can do.
With the cost of fishing/shooting trips abroad it comes as no surprise that this has lead to some people losing considerable amounts of money and if you multiply this by the number of people affected just over the last few weeks we are already talking in telephone numbers.
Are These People Covered?
For the many hundreds of thousands who thought to book all the holiday separately they would save money, unfortunately, this did not turn out to be the case.
If you book your fishing / shooting direct with an operator, you have no protection in any form unless you actually pay them with a credit card as you will receive some sort of protection by card but it does not normally cover you if you can not just arrive. It will normally cover you if the operator goes bust or there is something majorly wrong with the destination when you arrive. (However many overseas operators do not accept credit cards and only accept bank transfers where you have no protection at all).
If you book flights direct with an airline or through a flight agency and they cancel/change your booking you will be entitled to refunds and compensation depending on the circumstances. However, as the flights have been booked separately to all your other travel plans, either the agency or airline has no responsibility for the rest of your travel plans which normally makes up about 80% of the total holiday cost.
Likewise, if you book your fishing / shooting through one of the major booking agents in the UK who advertise that they have financial protection which is great, however this only protects you if the agent was to go out of business and again does not cover you for any other elements like flights that you booked separately.
How can you book safer travel plans?
The common point with all of the above is booking seperate elements like flights, transfers, hotels and either fishing / shooting all with different parties. The easiest way to remember this is: If you are paying separate companies for the different elements of your holiday they are not related to each other and have no legal obligation to each other.
The best way to book all of your travel is to use a fully bonded ATOL tour operator as then everything you book with them at the same time becomes a “Packaged Holiday” which gives you a whole new raft of financial protection and cover in the event of any travel disruption to your plans.
For example, let’s say you have booked the whole package with a tour operator and one of the above instances happens, so no flights to your destination. This time it’s up to the tour operator to sort it out, they will find you alternative flights for the same day, if not they will have to arrange with the fishing/shooting supplier to amend the dates. Failing this the tour operator would refund your money in full.
What if you were already abroad and your return flight was cancelled? How would you get home and what if you could not get home on the day originally planned? Again with a tour operator, this is their responsibility to sort all these issues out and also at no additional expense to you.
So as you can see it’s all about the contract you have with whoever you book with if you book and pay for individual elements you have separate contracts and little protection. If you book a complete “Packaged Holiday” with an ATOL tour operator you have only one contract and it is their responsibility to make sure you receive what you have both booked and paid for.
Are all the major fishing or shooting specialists in the UK ATOL protected?
Unfortunately not, and I believe you will be shocked who does not have it. Many who publicize that they are dedicated fishing or shooting agents are only interested in booking the main element for you as they work as an agent and take a commission. Now, these people say that they can give you the best advice etc, however, they do not want to take a booking for the whole trip as they do not want to be responsible for any problems. It’s just taking the booking and taking the commission. Plus if they were to offer you and book you a package holiday they would have to have either an ATOL licence or an alternative, plus they would become responsible for the whole package under trading standards.
You can always spot a booking agent as they only advertise a destination price that is normally in foreign currency and not as a packaged holiday price, as they do not wish to take any risks. They claim it is so they can be flexible and can tailor-make your holiday, but so can any reputable licensed tour operator. Sportquest can tailor your holiday and still package it with all the elements giving you both flexibility and protection.
So as I mentioned above many companies advertise that they have financial protection, however, this only protects you if they went into liquidation but what about the rest of your holiday travel plans and costs?
The moral of the story is simple only book packaged holidays, for example, all the people who booked a “Packaged Holiday” through an ATOL registered company that involves an effected flight either with Ryanair or Monarch all their holiday plans and money is safe.
These companies like us are busy trying to re-plan and rebook all effected customers and where we cannot arrange a suitable alternative customer receive a full refund.
How to tell if the company you are talking to is ATOL protected?
Firstly on their website, all sale / promotional paperwork and invoice should display the ATOL logo with their unique ATOL number. Unfortunately again some companies mislead customers here. There are even some major companies displaying ATOL logo on the bottom of their websites that do not hold ATOL licenses anymore, as ATOL did not renew their operating licenses.
The safest and only way to check companies current ATOL status is to check on the ATOL website. It’s simple and easy, just click here and then either enter the company name or their ATOL number that is displayed inside their ATOL Logo.
If they are a current ATOL licence holder it will confirm, if they are not and they are advertising or have informed you that you would be protected under ATOL, please help us regulate our industry by reporting any false claims to ATOL.
Just e-mail the enforcement team on firstname.lastname@example.org and they will do the rest.
But how much extra does it all cost?
Simple answer with Sportquest is nothing.
We sell and manage all our bookings at no additional cost than if you book all the elements separately yourself. But by booking the complete “Packaged Holiday” with Sportquest not only do you receive the best customer service but also complete peace of mind.
Read our About Us page to see the reasons to choose Sportquest Holidays as your holiday provider.
Why not try us out and then compare our price against you booking all individual elements and we will be the same and in some cases even cheaper.