What is Flight Plus?

The Flight Plus concept has just been introduced by the new ATOL Regulations in April this year. In simple terms, a “Flight Plus” is the sale of a flight with accommodation and/or car hire sold or requested by the customer within a day of each other, covering a period of over 24 hours, and the method of which it is sold means it is not a package holiday. The new regime is designed as an attempt to overcome and avoid the difficulties experienced by the regulators when implementing the phrase “a prearranged combination sold as an inclusive price” which is currently contained in the Package Travel Regulations 1992. A Flight Plus will encompass all eligible arrangements when the request to book is made on the same day, the day before or the following day; giving a three day window for creating a Flight Plus.

 

From 30th April 2012, a company selling a Flight Plus must now have an ATOL, regardless of whether they are acting as agent or principal in the transactions. The purpose of the change is to provide consumers with greater financial protection when they have purchased something other than a package holiday.  A key point to note is that consumers will only be protected in the event of supplier insolvency, not for quality complaints or personal injury claims as they are when booking a package holiday.

 

The CAA gave companies a 1 month grace period in which to implement the changes to their businesses and comply with the new regulations. This involved obtaining ATOLs if they didn’t already have them, changing the wording in their booking conditions and their confirmation invoices and ensuring they had correctly worded agency agreements in place, as well as making any necessary amendments to their IT systems. ATOL Certificates will also need to produced and provided to consumers from 1 October 2012.

 

There have been a number of amendments by the CAA since the implementation date, resulting in confusion amongst travel companies. It does seem as though most companies are now on board with the new regime and have everything more or less in order.  The latest development from the CAA is a 50% reduction in the Flight Plus ATOL payments to be made by online travel agents relating to scheduled flights.  This was quite a controversial move prompting calls for the CAA to extend this reduction to all companies having to pay Flight Plus ATOL payments. Whether they will do so remains to be seen…watch this space!