Teachers are being advised to check that any school trips involving air travel, booked for the coming academic year, are fully protected by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) scheme.

New advice has been issued to teachers organising air travel

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which runs ATOL, made the call as schools begin planning trips for the coming months.

The new advice aims to prevent parents being left substantially out of pocket if the tour operator organising their children’s trip collapses.

Parents of children at one school were left with bills of £750 per head earlier this year after the school’s chosen tour operator collapsed, the CAA said. The company concerned did not have ATOL protection.

Andy Cohen, head of ATOL, said: “We have seen cases in the past where parents have been left to bear the brunt after a tour company has collapsed - and we’re investigating a number of other live situations.

“Whoever is responsible for booking a school trip, that involves a flight, should do a simple check that travel companies being used are fully ATOL protected. Parents can help by double-checking the details of any bookings.”

Help for teachers

The CAA has set up a dedicated ATOL webpage for the education sector, which gives advice for anyone responsible for booking a school trip.

The CAA pointed out that many school trips, such as skiing holidays, can be quite complex, involving several different providers of flights, accommodation and activities. If a tour operator organising the overall trip is ATOL-protected then all individual components of the holiday are fully covered.

Cohen added: “As parents we know how expensive and time-consuming school trips can be to organise. To avoid landing parents with additional large travel expenses to get their children home, not to mention the stress and anxiety involved, we urge school trip organisers to spend time researching travel providers. It will be time well spent.”