The Air Travel Organier's Licensing (ATOL) is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - the UK's specialist aviation regulator. ATOL is the only scheme for flights and air holidays sold by tour operators in the UK.
The ATOL protection scheme protects travellers from losing money or being stranded abroad in the event of a tour operator going out of business. All licenced firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA, which gives refunds and arranges for people to finish their holidays and fly home. Should the ATOL bond be inadequate to look after everyone affected, a government-backed fund called the Air Travel Trust steps in.
Provided your package holiday or flight is booked with an ATOL holder, your cover will be included in the price of your holiday.
The ATOL holder or their agent must provide you with an ATOL receipt once you pay any money for a flight or a package holiday by air. The receipt will include the name of the licensed firm you're booked with and their ATOL number. The ATOL holder will be required to honour your booking in the event that their agent goes out of business. Similarly, should the ATOL holder go out of business itself, you will be further protected by ATOL.
Those buying a scheduled flight and receiving a ticket within 24 hours of payment and those booking direct with an airline are not protected by ATOL.