Some of the UK’s biggest travel agents are giving incorrect information about the cover and protections holidaymakers are entitled to, an investigation has revealed.
Posing as potential customers, consumer watchdog Which? contacted Expedia, British Airways Holidays, Ryanair, Edreams, Lastminute.com, Trailfinders and TravelRepublic.
Package Travel Regulations offer a level of legal protection, while Atol is run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Travel companies in the scheme must pay £2.50 for each person they book on a holiday, which creates a fund that is used by the CAA to ensure that holidaymakers will get their money back if the airline, the hotel or the agent itself goes bust.
Meanwhile, if a car rental, hotel or a tour is booked within 24 hours of booking a flight with the same operator, it is covered under a Linked Travel Arrangement.
However, when Which? asked a series of questions about what kind of protection can be expected with several of the holidays that they advertise, two of the travel firms - Edreams and Ryanair - operators gave more wrong answers than right ones, getting two thirds of the questions wrong.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor said: “The new rules around travel protection are difficult to understand but that is no excuse for travel agents who are in the business of selling holidays to give travellers the wrong information especially when we have seen so many travel plans ruined by airlines going bust in recent years.
“It is completely unreasonable for the onus to fall onto holidaymakers when legislation clearly states that no matter how you book your trip, the company you are booking with needs to tell you up front if you’re buying a package holiday or not - and tell you exactly what this entails.”
Edreams said it was “looking into the specific cases referred to”, while Ryanair did not respond to requests for comment.
A spokesman said: “We appreciate this being brought to our attention. Our customers are our number one priority and we always strive to provide them with the best experience. Our Customer Services team is continuously trained to give travellers the most up to date information on a range of topics, which includes the travel protection available to them. As a reminder, all our British customers’ trips are protected by Spain’s national travel insurance scheme that meets the highest levels of protection required by European law.
"We are looking into the specific cases referred to and will work with our Customer Service team to review our training materials and internal processes to make sure that we meet our demanding standards to deliver excellence for our customers”