Safe and Sound
With all turmoil on the world financial markets, and press coverage about airlines and tour operators leaving travellers stranded, you might reasonably ask "How safe is my holiday with Journey Latin America?"
Journey Latin America has been trading for 33 years. Temperamentally, we don't take risks and we certainly don't think like City traders. We're not in it for a quick buck.
We are members of ABTA and AITO. These are trade associations which require us to have financial protection in place. The CAA's ATOL scheme (Air Tour Operator's Licence) means that when you book a holiday with us, or more specifically an 'air package holiday', both your holiday and your money are fully protected.
What's an 'Air Package Holiday'?
Arrangements booked with us which include a flight and some ground services (eg hotels, transport or excursions). It makes sound sense to book all the elements of your holiday with one company, because then you get the maximum level of consumer protection. It has more recently become known as an "ATOL-protected holiday".
So how am I covered?
Any money you've paid us is protected. And once you've paid in full, if an airline, or any of the providers of services we have booked for you fails, it's up to us to find an alternative. If we ourselves cease to trade before or after your trip starts, you are protected by our ATOL licence. This is issued by the CAA every year after very close scrutiny of our accounts and trading patterns. We pay a protection levy for every UK-based client we book.
What if I've only booked hotels or excursions with you, and not transatlantic flights because I've bought those somewhere else?
Hotels, excursions, cruises, and transport count as ground services (packaged holiday) and are covered by the bond we place with ABTA. Both your money and these services are protected. By the way, any flights (say in Latin America) you buy from us as part of this package will be also protected by our ATOL. If you buy any of your flights elsewhere, you should ask the agent or airline if they're protected.
Where do I stand if one of these cruise companies or excursions you've booked me on goes bust?
Your holiday is safe. We'll offer you a suitable alternative, or a full refund of the affected element.
Am I protected if I book a Journey Latin America holiday through my local travel agent?
Yes. So long as it's a UK agent with whom we have an Agency Agreement, it's the same as if you'd booked with Journey Latin America, (even if the travel agent goes bust).
What's this new ATOL certificate I've read about?
It came in on 1st October 2012. When you book an ATOL-protected holiday, your travel company must provide you with a certificare to say what that holiday is, and how you're protected. See paragraph 26 in our Booking Conditions for further details.
What if I've only booked a flight with Journey Latin America?
Between the time you pay us and the time we issue your ticket, the money you've paid us is safe, even if something happens to us.
So what happens if the airline goes bust after Journey Latin America has sent me my ticket?
Your money is safe, both before and after your trip has started.
But I've heard that airlines don't have to offer any sort of guarantee!
That's true. The government does not insist that airlines are covered by the CAA's ATOL regulations. Our trade association (AITO) has lobbied hard to get airlines included in the ATOL scheme, but so far without success. So we decided to do something about it ourselves.
So if I understand correctly, my money's safer if book a flight with Journey Latin America than it is if I book directly with the airline?
Supposing I book a flight with one of these on-line 'booking-engines' - do they offer any protection?
Probably not. If they do, they'll shout about it on their home page. If they don't, they won't tell you until you're well into the transaction, or not at all - ‘though they may offer airline-failure insurance at extra cost.
This sounds too good to be true... Any other benefits from booking with Journey Latin America?
Our clients often say of us "It's refreshing to deal with a travel company that seems to be on my side". As you'd guess from our name, our strength is in Latin America - we've been at it for over 30 years, and you get to talk to a real person who will help you decide what to buy. A booking engine or airline may steer you towards what it wants to sell. British Airways won't offer you the option of KLM for example, nor would you expect it to...
Safe and sound?
If things go wrong, and we're not just talking about consumer protection, that's when you really need us to be on your side.