Thousands of holidaymakers have had their holiday plans ruined by the collapse of Surrey-based travel firm Goldtrail Travel Limited.

The tour operator, which mainly specialised in trips to Greece and Turkey, ceased trading on Friday (see the Cheap Package Holidays guide).

The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) estimates tens of thousands of travellers on holiday or with future bookings are affected, though exact numbers are still unclear.

Everyone booked on a package holiday will get their money back or be flown home by the CAA under its Atol (Air Travel Organiser's Licensing) protection scheme, which covers tour operator failures. However, the CAA warns refunds may take months.

Those who booked a flight-only via the company may not get compensation from the CAA, but they may be able to claim via their card company or insurer.

Here are your rights if you've been affected by Goldtrail's collapse:

I'm already on holiday. What happens next?

  • Package holidays. The CAA says the estimated 16,000 affected customers who booked flights and accommodation all booked Atol-protected holidays, meaning they are covered for Goldtrail's collapse. The CAA says most travellers will be able to fly back on their planned flight as Goldtrail was not a carrier, it booked spaces on other companies' planes.

    It will also ensure anyone in a hotel booked by Goldtrail will be able to stay there as normal. The CAA will pay the hotel for any cash Goldtrail was due to forward. There have been reports some hotels have asked holidaymakers to pay those fees, effectively meaning travellers pay twice. The CAA says anyone charged twice will get a full refund from it if they keep receipts.

  • Flight only. While Goldtrail was largely a tour operator, it also booked flight-only deals for holidaymakers on other carriers' planes. The CAA is still unsure how many flight-only passengers are affected, though it doubts many will be Atol-protected. To find out, contact your travel agent or the CAA.

What if I've yet to travel?

Goldtrail's administrators say customers booked on outbound flights will not be able to take them.

If you've booked a package, you'll either get a full refund or be allowed to exchange your holiday for an alternative under the Atol scheme.

If you've booked a flight-only deal, it's unlikely you'll be Atol-protected but check with the CAA or your travel agent.

How to make a claim or get info

To make a claim, complete a CAA Atol claim form.

If in the UK, call the CAA helpline on 0203 441 0846 for information or see the CAA's Goldtrail advice.

If overseas, call the CAA on +44 203 441 0846 to ensure it covers your hotel stay and to find out flight information.

What if your trip is not Atol protected?

Here, you've far fewer rights but you may still get compensation under the following circumstances:

  • Did you book on a credit card? If so, your card company is jointly liable, by law, with Goldtrail and should give you a refund if your flights cost over 100 per person (see the Section 75 guide). If you paid less than 100, you may not get a refund under this guarantee.

  • Did you book using a Visa debit or credit card? You could get a refund from your card company under the Visa chargeback scheme, with no minimum spending limit (see the Visa Chargeback guide). The Visa chargeback scheme is not a legal right, just a voluntary scheme the company operates.

  • Did you book via any other means? Your only refund hope is from the airline's administrators (though this is unlikely as passengers are low on the list of creditors) or via a travel insurance claim (see below).

  • Check your travel insurance. If your policy includes tour operator failure you should be covered, so check the wording, says the Association of British Insurers. Otherwise, it's unlikely you'll get anything back from your insurer (see the Cheap Travel Insurance guide).

Further reading/Key links

Get refunded: Section 75 and Visa Chargeback guides
Cut-price cover: Cheap Travel Insurance
Slash flying costs: Cheap Flights
Official statement: CAA