Recently in the Evening Herald, Dan White provided some incorrect advice in response to a readers question about the safety of using travel agents given some recent high profile closures and the difficulties experienced by Budget Travel and Sunway Holidays. The question, in this article, from a reader was as follows:
With so many travel agents closing, is it safe to book my foreign holiday with an agent or should I go online instead? What happens if I book with an agent and it closes? Is my money safe?
The response from Mr. White was as follows:
First things first: if an Irish-licensed travel agent closes, as both City Travel and the Travel Collection did last week, customers’ money is safe.
All Irish-licensed travel agents and tour operators must be bonded with the Commission for Aviation Regulation. Since the bonding scheme was first introduced over 20 years ago, no customer has been left in the lurch.
Unfortunately, there are qualifications necessary to these statements that make them dangerously misleading and could lead to a false sense of comfort and complacency amongst Irish consumers when it comes to booking their holidays through a travel agent.
If you book a holiday with an Irish travel agent, but if you’re departing from an airport outside the Republic of Ireland, then you are not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation bonding scheme. You would be covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority scheme – assuming your travel agent has signed up to it (and many Irish travel agents don’t).
So, if you book your holiday from a Dublin travel agent but fly out from Belfast, you’re not covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation scheme.
Another thing to be careful of – the Commission for Aviation Regulation only covers anything booked from a travel agent that includes travel (i.e. flights). If you book a villa in the south of France, but decide to book your flights with Ryanair, then your villa booking isn’t covered by this scheme either.