It is hard to see how the move towards Flight-Plus Atol has improved consumer protection, On Holiday Group boss Steve Endacott has claimed.
Writing in his regular blog, he discusses the dynamic packaging sector being brought under the Atol umbrella from next month.
But he questions the benefits for holidaymakers.
“Flight-Plus Atol will definitely benefit the CAA and the government but I have reservations whether the changes will actually benefit the customer, as I can see even more delays in customers getting their money back in the case of any major airline failure,” Endacott says.
He suggests that Travel Republic may have gone for the agent for the consumer option had the online agency not been taken over.
“If DNATA had not acquired Travel Republic, it is likely that they would have again taken the CAA on head to head and gone down the perfectly legal ‘agent of the customer’ route avoiding the requirement to offer Flight-Plus Atol cover,” he speculates.
“This in turn would have left the rest of the sector with the difficult choice of giving a competitor a significant pricing advantage or following suit and scuppering Flight-Plus in the process.”
Endacott adds: “Under Flight-Plus, legally the agent cannot charge the customer again and must replace the flight at their own expense and reclaim the cost from their insurers if they have SAFI or supplier failure cover.
“However, there is no legal requirement for agents to have such insurance and no way for customers to know which agents do or do not have insurance.
“So what happens when an agent does not have insurance and cannot afford to replace the flight? The customer can no longer directly go claim from the CAA as it’s the travel agent’s liability and therefore they would have to take legal action against the agents and only if this forces them into bankruptcy would the CAA pay out.
“The simple question is, how long would this take and how is this clearer for the customer?”
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