ATOL scheme reminds travellers to be cautious of Black Friday deals

Ahead of Black Friday (24 November), consumers are being urged to be on their guard against deals that seem too good to be true if they plan to book their next holiday this month.

ATOL research shows that 43 per cent of us plan to book an overseas trip this autumn and with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday growing in popularity in the UK, airlines and travel companies are increasingly advertising deals on getaways.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority, which runs the ATOL scheme, urges consumers to check on the ATOL website and use the ‘check for ATOL’ tool to see if a holiday provider is ATOL licensed before booking a trip.

Other tips to avoid common travel scams include doing some online research to check the company you plan to book with is legitimate.

Consumers can also read feedback from sources they trust and navigate to a company’s official website by searching for them using a trusted search engine, rather than clicking on links in emails, texts or messages.

Michael Budge, Head of ATOL at the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “Over the Black Friday weekend, there can be many attractive deals offered by holiday companies, but consumers need to be wary. It is vital that people research thoroughly before booking, as there can be a risk of getting caught out by hidden costs and extras, or potentially fraudulent companies. We urge consumers to check for ATOL protection, book by credit card where possible and take out travel insurance to offer layers of financial protection for their next package trip.”

To coincide with the launch of a mini Black Friday campaign, ATOL has also published some top travel tips for consumers to follow:

Check for ATOL financial protection

Travel companies selling air package holidays in the UK are required to hold an ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) and the scheme also applies to some flight bookings.
If an ATOL licensed travel company stops trading, the scheme protects their package holiday customers, making sure they don’t get stuck abroad or lose money if they are yet to travel.
Some non-UK travel companies will be advertising their deals over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales period to UK consumers – these companies should be ATOL licensed.
Before booking, you should always check that your travel provider is a legitimate ATOL holder.
When you book, the travel company will provide an ATOL Certificate, which tells customers what they are protected against if the travel company stops trading, and shows exactly which parts of their booking are ATOL protected.

Watch out for hidden costs

Before booking a holiday it’s important to check there are no hidden costs hiding in the terms and conditions or their bargain price will soon start to rise. Before booking your holiday make sure to check:

Does it include baggage allowance? How much is additional luggage?
Shop around with other providers to check it is a good deal and remember, holiday bargains can usually be found through the festive period and into the New Year.
Is there any flexibility in the booking? Can parts of the holiday be amended in the future without incurring any extra costs?
Look for where the seller is based – If it’s abroad and the deal is in a foreign currency, make sure to check how much they are charging in pounds before booking to ensure you get a good rate, and double check your bank’s fees if paying in foreign currency.

Use a credit card when booking

Using a credit card may allow people to benefit from enhanced purchase protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
This means if you pay for your flight or hotel with a credit card and something doesn’t go to plan, in many cases your credit card issuer should provide a refund (for purchases between £100-£30,000).

Get travel insurance

Travel insurance can provide extra protection if the holiday doesn’t work out quite as they intended.
It can protect you from a range of mishaps relating to the trip from cancellations, missed transport and medical emergencies through to items lost or stolen when travelling.
Travel insurance is widely available online and the type of cover needed will vary so always carefully check the insurance terms and conditions for full details of cover.

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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