Get your money back

12 September 2008

Tens of thousands of holidaymakers have been left in limbo after XL Leisure Group, Britain’s third biggest package holiday firm, went into administration early this morning.

The group, which includes XL Airways. Excel Aviation and Aspire Holidays, blames volatile fuel prices and the economic downturn as well as a lack of new funding. As a result, it has been placed in administration and all its 21 aircraft have been grounded.

Passengers due to fly with XL have been told not to bother going to the airport. The firm flew to 50 destinations, mainly in the Meditarrian but also in America and the Caribbean.

The downfall of XL comes less than a month after budget airline Zoom was placed in administration.

Alastair Beveridge, Nick Cropper, Simon Appell and Stuart Mackellar have been appointed as joint administrators of the companies.

Advice to customers

Passengers who have yet to commence travel have been told that, in light of XL going into administration, they should make “alternative arrangements”.

People already on their holiday, however, may not have to fork out to get home. Four of XL’s firms held Air Travel Organiser’s Licenses (ATOL), which means customers that purchased holidays and flights will be ATOL protected.

They are as follows:

The Really Great Holiday Company - ATOL 3827
Kosmar Villa Holidays - ATOL 1760
Freedom Flights - ATOL 5296
Aspire Holidays - ATOL 6536

The ATOL scheme means that all holidaymakers already on their trip will be able to stay on in their hotel or villa until their end of their trip as no extra cost. The CAA is also arranging flights home for these passengers.

Customers who have been told they need to make payments are advised to keep receipts for possible refunds.

XL Airways and Medlife are not covered by the ATOL scheme. Passengers on the former, however, have been told that, for a nominal fee, they may be able to get a seat on one of the flights organised by the CAA.

Finally, customers yet to travel but who have booked a trip with on of XL’s ATOL protected companies may still be able to enjoy a holiday. They are advised to contact ATOL (details below) to see if alternative arrangements cam be made.

Get your money back

If you booked with XL Airlines then you won’t be able to get a refund for your return flight from ATOL. However, there are still ways you can get your money back.

If you booked your flight on a credit card then, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you could get a refund on amounts between £100 and £30,000.

If you booked with a debit card, then you might not be so lucky. However, some VISA debit cards operate a similar scheme called ‘chargeback’.

Although there is no minimum or maximum limit on a Visa chargeback claim, it must be made within 120 days of the date of the transaction. In addition, every case is assessed on a case-by-case basis, and although the scheme is not enshrined in law, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has deemed that chargeback is an example of good practice, and is widely accepted in the banking industry.

Finally, you may find you are covered by your travel insurance. The type of protection provided may also vary depending on the type of policy taken out. A policy may cover the complete or partial cost of the original tickets or accommodation purchased.

However, the majority of standard travel insurance policies do not cover scheduled airlines going bust.

According to Paul McClean, a director at International Passenger Protection, the only exception is the ABTASure Travel Insurance Policy, but this is only available from travel agents that are members of the Association of British Travel Agents.

Who to contact

Customers worried about getting home can call the CAA’s helpline on +44 (0) 2891 856 547.

You can also call the Administrators on 0800 068 8991 (from the UK) or + 44 208 242 4783 (from abroad).

Other useful numbers:

First Choice – 0871 200 7799
Thomas Cook – 0870 750 0119
Thomson – 0871 231 5938

XL Leisure says that people owed money as a result of a cancelled holiday please send details of the amount owed to you by the companies to: Kroll Limited, Wellington Plaza, 31 Wellington Street, Leeds LS1 4DL.

Companies in the XL Leisure Group

XL Airways UK
Excel Aviation
Explorer House
Aspire Holidays
Freedom Flights
Freedom Flights (Aviation)
The Really Great Holiday Company (trading as Cruise City, ExcelHolidays, The Florida Skytrain, Transatlantic Vacations, Travel CityDirect and Travel City International)
Medlife Hotels Limited
Travel City Flights
Kosmar Villa Holiday (trading as Kosmar Holidays)

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