Booking a rail, coach or cruise package holiday with an ABTA member can offer you valuable protection if things go wrong.
ABTA, The Travel Association used to be known as The Association of British Travel Agents.
As the UK’s largest association of travel agents and tour operators, its aims include:
ABTA sets high standards of service among its members and offers protection to people who buy rail, self-drive, coach, ferry or cruise holidays through their member companies. Holidays with air travel are protected by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) instead.
ABTA’s Code of Conduct sets high standards for its members to abide by, with the aim of ensuring they provide a reliable, professional and trustworthy service.
The code requires that an ABTA member:
If you book a package holiday with a tour operator or travel company that’s ‘ABTA protected’, it means you can expect to receive a high level of reliable service that adheres to ABTA’s Code of Conduct.
You’ll be covered by financial protection if your provider goes bust and can receive help from ABTA to resolve any issues or complaints you may have with your travel provider.
As well as protecting holidaymakers and aiming to ensure that their members provide a high quality, trusted and dependable service, ABTA supports the travel and tourism industry to grow in a responsible way.
They lobby on issues such as taxation and financial protection, offering free legal advice and crisis management for their members.
ABTA covers rail, coach, cruise and self-drive package holidays, while ATOL protection is there for flight-based package holidays.
When you book with an ATOL member, you’ll be issued with a certificate that shows protection is in place.
It means that if your tour operator or travel company were to go out of business before you went on holiday, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would issue you a full refund.
If the company collapsed while you were away, they enable you to finish your holiday and also get you home.
Look for the ABTA badge on your travel company’s brochure and website or do a member search on the ABTA website.
To use ABTA’s arbitration scheme, you’ll first need to have complained in writing to your travel company, letting them know how you’d like them to resolve the problem.
If you haven’t been able to reach a satisfactory outcome after two letters of complaint, then you can register a dispute online at ABTA.
You’ll need to supply things like copies of letters and emails, plus details of any phone conversations.
ABTA will then review your dispute, offer advice, decide if you have a case to pursue, then contact the company asking them to review your case.
If you reach a deadlock with the ABTA member and you wish to go through the arbitration process, the arbitrator will consider the evidence and make a legally binding award, payable within 21 days from the date issued.
Though ABTA offers protection if a member goes out of business or you have a complaint, they don’t cover you for all the other important things that travel insurance does, such as paying out for: