Holidaymakers who book their own DIY package holiday via an airline's website could soon be protected if a firm goes bust, the Department for Transport has said.

The Government yesterday introduced new legislation to extend the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) scheme, which offers protection to those booking package holidays.

And while the new law – first announced in the Queen's Speech last month – is very broad-brush, the Department for Transport has told it's likely to mean travellers who book via airline websites will benefit from additional protection from 2018.

The changes are set to extend ATOL protection to:

  • Travellers who book flights plus accommodation or car hire on an airline's website within 24 hours.
  • Travellers who book flights plus accommodation or car hire from separate companies, as long as they follow a link from the website of the airline they booked with to book the accommodation/car hire and do so within 24 hours of the initial booking.

The scheme's extension comes after a change in 2012 to include 'flight plus holidays', which meant passengers booking car hire or accommodation from the same website (excluding airline websites) within 24 hours of booking their flight would have ATOL protection. See our ATOL travel protection scheme extended MSE News story for more.

What protection does ATOL provide?

ATOL is run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and is used by more than 20 million holidaymakers each year. The scheme covers all UK firms selling holidays with air travel, but not non-UK holiday firms.

Currently the scheme protects if you book one of the following from a UK site:

  • A traditional package holiday.
  • Flights plus accommodation or car hire bookings on the same website (excluding airlines) within 24 hours.

If the worst happens and your holiday is cancelled, under ATOL you'd get a refund for your holiday or an alternative holiday and transport.

ATOL is funded by a £2.50 contribution from travel companies for each protected passenger.

You can check if individual firms have ATOL protection on the CAA website and find out more about travel protection in our Holiday Rights guide.