30th April 2012

Consumers are set to benefit from increased protection as reforms to the ATOL scheme come into force

As of Monday 30 April, holidaymakers are set to enjoy increased protection of their holiday as reforms to the Air Travel Organiser’s License (ATOL) scheme come into effect. Flights sold in conjunction with overseas accommodation and/or car hire, known as “Flight-Plus”, are now protected by ATOL. It does not matter if the booking was made on the high street, over the phone, or via the internet. Flight-Plus provides the following protection:

  1. Before you travel – if your airline, accommodation provider or car hire provider goes out of business the firm that arranged your Flight-Plus must find you suitable alternatives at no cost to you, or offer you a full refund.
  2. Whilst you are on your holiday – if your airline, accommodation provider or car hire provider goes out of business the firm which arranged your Flight-Plus must provide you with an alternative flight home, alternative accommodation or alternative car hire as necessary or offer you a full refund for any unused parts of your holiday.

Scott Kennerley, Head of Transport at the Consumer Council says, “Under the new Flight-Plus rules, more holidaymakers will be protected if an airline, accommodation provider, car hire company or travel company goes bust as flights and accommodation booked together will be protected.  This is good news for consumers as it gives increased confidence when booking holidays.   Consumers should also receive clear confirmation from the seller that their holiday is indeed protected by ATOL.”

However, Flight-Plus does not apply in all circumstances.  Specifically, Flight-Plus does not apply if:

  • Consumers arrange their own flight, accommodation or car hire as separate purchases from different companies;
  • Consumers book flights, along with accommodation or car hire directly from an airline website; (the protection does apply to bookings purchased from an airline’s holiday company website)
  • The flight is a domestic flight; or
  • The flight, accommodation and/or car hire are not booked within one day of each other:  it does not matter which element is booked first, but they must be booked within one day of each other.
  • Bookings for accommodation/car hire are made in the UK, but the flight departs from the Republic of Ireland (ROI)

Continuing, Scott Kennerley said, “If a holidaymaker is in any doubt whether their holiday is protected by ATOL they should check with the seller before they book.  Consumers can also contact the Consumer Council for more information on the Flight-Plus scheme by ringing our Contact Centre on 0800 121 6022 or downloading our factsheet, available at

Notes to editors

  1. ATOL is a scheme that protects consumers on package holidays and some flights from the insolvency of their tour operator or travel agent.  It is run by the Civil Aviation Authority.
  2. From October 2012, all consumers who make an ATOL protected booking will receive a certificate confirming that their holiday is covered by the scheme.


1.   Consumer Council media contact: Irene Overend, telephone, 028 9067 4816 or e-mail [email protected]

2.   The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.

3.   For more information, visit our website at