Holidaymakers run the risk of being left without a rescue if something goes wrong on their holidays due to confusion over their rights, a study has found.
Which one? says some of & # 39; & # 39; s largest travel agents and aviation companies e UK provides incorrect information on the coverage and protections that holidaymakers are entitled to under Package Travel Regulations, Linked Travel Arrangements (LTA) and Atol.
The researchers, posing as potential customers, found that many of the staff with whom they spoke could answer no more than half of the questions about these important protections – with Ryanair and Edreams being able to answer those questions. t two-thirds of & # 39; get questions wrong.
An inquiry by Which? says some of & # 39; the biggest travel agents and aviation companies in & # 39; United Kingdom gives wrong information to holidaymakers about the coverage and protections that holidaymakers are entitled to
Expedia, British Airways Holidays, Lastminute.com, Trailfinders and TravelRepublic were also contacted.
The researchers asked a series of questions about what kind of protection can be expected with several of the holidays that they advertise.
Package travel regulations offer the most comprehensive coverage in a number of different scenarios, including hotels that look nothing like the brochure and natural disasters and gritty volcanoes that do not interfere with flight schedules.
If a flight is part of the holiday package and the company booked with Atol is protected, passengers will be insured if their airline will be bundled – this is especially important, as 20-ounce airlines have launched since the beginning of 2018.
Atoll is run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Travel companies in the scheme must pay £ 2.50 for each person who does not book them on a holiday.
This money creates a fund that is used by the CAA to make sure vacationers get their money back as the airline, the hotel or the agent even goes bust and repatriates in case they are all already on vacation.
The important distinction is that Atol is a financial protection scheme, while the package travel arrangements provide a level of legal protection.
If a car rental, hotel or tour is booked within 24 hours of booking your flight with the same operator and it is not a package, then it is a linked travel arrangement.
This means that financial error protection is in place to return a portion of & # 39; booking as one of & # 39; the companies involved become insolvent.
During the investigation, researchers found that agents Ryanair and Edreams struggled most to answer questions on these topics.
Which one? says both companies gave more wrong answers than right answers, and got 10 out of 15 questions wrong.
In the case of Ryanair, researchers say staff were stumped enough to pass their talks between two call centers – Ryanair Rooms and Ryanair.com.
The consumer group added that Ryanair not only got two-thirds of & # 39; questions wrong, one staff member was even unable to explain what a package was – claiming that & # 39; it & # 39; hotel was provided by a third party it does not count as a package & # 39 ;.
A table showing the questions on which the? researchers asked and how many answered correctly. Each travel company was contacted three times
The & # 39; third party & # 39; hotel was booked through Ryanair Rooms, and the flight and hotel were part of the same transaction.
Meanwhile, Which? claims that most travel agencies were also completely wrong in the advice they gave about the new rules for Linked Travel Arrangements.
In fact, staff at six of the seven travel companies got this question wrong every time. Who? he asked.
Besides, Which? says many of the agents offered the aforementioned Atol protection, as if it were a fix-all replacement for the Package Travel Regulations.
Spanish-based online travel agency Edreams wrongly told What? that would protect the fictional Atoll.
But their Atol license expired three months before the consumer called champion.
And although it now offers financial protection from a similar Spanish scheme, Which? claims that this would be much harder to settle for anyone who's out and about when they're on vacation.
However, the research showed that with the right training companies, the advice with TrailFinders can only get one question wrong.
Which one? has already shared its findings with the CAA, and urges it to take action.
The evidence is also presented to & # 39; Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the government agency responsible for overseeing & # 39; e new travel rules.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: & # 39; The new rules on travel protection are difficult to understand, but that is no excuse for travel agents & # 39; s not & # 39; t are business of selling vacations to give travelers the wrong information, especially as we have seen so many travel plans destroyed by Airlines bus going in recent years.
The Consumer Champion found that many of & # 39; employees with whom they did not speak more than half of & # 39; e could answer important protection questions
THE QUESTIONS ARE FORGOT? AND THE CORRECT ANSWERS
Q. Is a flight and hotel booking a package together?
Q. Does this mean I have package vacation protection?
Yes, and usually Atol protection too.
Q. If I book a flight today but tomorrow a hotel to the same destination, is that a package?
Probably not, though it may be a linked travel arrangement.
Q. Can you explain a Linked Travel Arrangement (LTA)?
This is when you buy one part of your vacation, such as the flight, and then you are asked within 24 hours, perhaps via email, to reserve another part, such as a hotel, or to book one travel agency, but pay in front of the hotel and flies apart. If the travel agent brushes before you travel, you will receive your money back.
Q. Will my booking for hotel and flight Atol be protected if booked at the same time?
Yes for most (the Edreams license expired in September and can now only offer financial protection under the Madrid scheme after a change of & # 39; law. Ryanair is not registered with Atol).
& # 39; It is completely unreasonable for the onus to fall on vacationers when legislation clearly states that, despite how you book your trip, the company you book must tell you in advance whether to buy a package vacation or not – and tell you exactly what this entails. & # 39;
An Edreams spokeswoman said: & # 39; 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.
& # 39; Our customer service team is continuously charged to provide travelers with the most up-to-date information on a range of topics, including the travel protection that is available to them. As a reminder, all of our UK customer journeys are protected by Spain's national travel insurance scheme that does not comply with the highest levels of protection required by European law.
& # 39; We are investigating the specific cases mentioned and will work with our customer service team to monitor our training materials and internal processes to ensure we meet our standards requirements to deliver excellence for our customers. & # 39;
An Expedia spokeswoman said: & # 39; Add on Advantage offers customers access to discounted rates on hotels after they have made a qualifying purchase, which can be a flight, car or package booking.
& # 39; As such, the Add on Advantage landing page explains the detail around the offer and gives customers the opportunity to search for a qualifying purchase. The end result is that customers have the flexibility to book and adjust their travel and payment schedules as they wish, while still having access to discounts.
& # 39; As part of the search and booking process, customers are provided with information on linked travel arrangements and packages, including information that if a person books a linked travel arrangement, they will not benefit from rights that do not apply to packages. The landing page itself also contains more information on this. & # 39;
While a British Airways Holidays spokeswoman said: & # 39; Booking with a well-known global brand such as British Airways Holidays gives customers extra certainty, and all of our vacation packages are protected by Atol. In addition, we protect Atol linked travel arrangements that are booked through our call center.
& # 39; We will work with our customer service agents to ensure that we provide clear and consistent advice and guidance to customers. & # 39;
A spokesman for LastMinute.com said: Our customer care team agents are trying to answer any questions about the financial protection that is available to holidaymakers in the UK. However, we will investigate this matter and ensure that all of our agents are trained to the required levels.
& # 39; We want to reiterate that lastminute.com customers are fully Atol-protected when they purchase flight-inclusive holidays from us, and also covered under Linked Travel Arrangements where required by EU Package Travel and Links for linked travel arrangements. & # 39;
A spokesman for & # 39; Travel Republic said: & # 39; Travel Republic offers customers comfort and insurance and we always strive for customer service of the highest quality. In this instance, we recognize that additional training is needed to ensure that there is no ambiguity about the protection that customers receive when booking their vacation. & # 39;
MailOnline Travel also contacted Ryanair for comment.
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