The UK Government has today announced that ATOL-protected holidaymakers e.g cruise package that includes a flights, will be able to book with confidence following a government move to protect refund credit notes offered if packages are cancelled as a result of COVID-19.

Since the start of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of travellers have seen there trips cancelled, and many travel agents had been forced to offer consumers refund credit notes.

Today’s news means that refunds credit notes issued by these travel agents between the 10 March and 30 September will be protected through to 30 September 2021 – which means, should your travel agent cease trading, you would be financially protected by the ATOL scheme.

Commenting on the news, Martin Lewis, founder of, said: “This is a key travel intervention we’ve been calling for. It’s far from a cure-all, but ATOL is a statutory scheme and the fact the government will now effectively underwrite its credit refund notes gives a solid bedrock of security for customers willing to take them.

“And I’d encourage those who it’s right for to do so. The pandemic has been devastating for the travel industry and travellers. Taking an ATOL credit refund note if you’re likely to rebook shows welcome forbearance and flexibility, and the fact that, if you don’t use it, it can be exchanged for cash gives peace of mind.

“Of course it’s not right for everyone, many desperately need a refund. My hope is this more solid halfway house for some will enable firms to more swiftly pay out full refunds for others.’

“If the consumer chooses a refund credit note, they should have the option to convert it to a cash refund at any point and must do so before 30 September 2021.”

A spokesperson for ATOL, said: “This news provides much-needed clarity for consumers, who should now feel confident their money is secure if they have chosen to accept a refund credit note.

“Consumers are entitled to a cash refund and must be offered this option at the same time as a refund credit note or booking amendment.”

ATOL has confirmed that refund credit notes should

  • Be issued by the Atol holder named on the Atol certificate;
  • Not exceed the value of payments made towards the Atol-protected booking;
  • Be directly linked to an Atol-protected booking, either shown on the refund credit note directly or in supporting documents;
  • Make clear the total value that will benefit from Atol protection, excluding payments made separate to the Atol-protected booking or any incentives offered by the travel company;
  • Make clear the refund credit note is not transferrable to another individual;
  • Be clear that it can be exchanged with the travel company for cash at any time and no later than September 30, 2021 if not redeemed against a booking.

ATOL advises consumers to keep all the original documentation for their Atol-protected booking, including the original Atol certificate, proof of payment and booking documents.

It advises consumers concerned that a refund credit note they have received does not meet the Atol-protection criteria to contact their travel company.

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By Editor

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