The collapse of travel company Goldtrail has left thousands of holidaymakers stranded in Greece and Turkey and many more wondering what will happen to their already booked holiday plans.
Here we attempt to address some of the key issues surrounding the debacle, including what existing travellers can do and how future holidaymakers can avoid similar issues no matter which company they book with.
What is Goldtrail Travel?
Goldtrail Travel operated package holidays as well as hotel and flight deals, the majority of which were sold through travel agents online, on the high street and over the phone. Its brands include Goldtrail Holidays, Goldtrail Travel and Sunmar.
The company was registered under the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL scheme.
What happens if you are on holiday with Goldtrail?
At the time of the collapse around 15,000 people were overseas having booked holidays through Goldtrail. However, for those abroad there was no need for immediate panic – they should have been able to complete their holiday, remain in their hotel and return home as normal – although flight times may have been altered.
However, understandably, there has been a lot of misinformation that has circulated as people fear being stranded abroad. For the complete picture, the CAA should be able to guide you.
Should any hotelier ask you to pay an additional sum for your accommodation you should speak to the CAA – it may ask you to pay again or seek alternative accommodation. Certainly if you do pay again, be sure to hang on to any receipts so you can potentially claim refunds later. Similarly, refer to the CAA regarding any additional charges for your flight – flights are protected and you should be able to return without additional charges.
What happens if you have booked a package holiday through Goldtrail?
Anyone who has bought a package holiday through Goldtrail should bear in mind that the company has not been allowed to take people abroad since the evening of July 16, 2010. Therefore it will be necessary to apply for a refund via the CAA.
As the process of ascertaining a refund is relatively long-winded, it’s a good idea to contact your travel agent and find out what paperwork will be needed, or look on the CAA website. This should help to speed up the process.
While the collapse of XL Holidays led to travellers not receiving their refund for several months, this situation shouldn’t occur with Goldtrail simply because Goldtrail is a much smaller company with fewer holidaymakers to deal with.
What happens if you have booked a flight only through Goldtrail?
If you had booked a flight through Goldtrail then you are entitled to a refund thanks to the CAA ATOL scheme – simply follow the same procedures outlined for holiday refunds.
However, where the situation becomes more complicated is if you had booked separate accommodation, not through the company. If that’s the case and you still want to continue with your holiday then you will need to find new flights and pay for those at whatever the market rate may be – the only money you will be entitled to claim is the price of your original Goldtrail flight, not any difference that may occur with a replacement flight. It is however, worth contacting your travel insurance company to see if it will cover these costs under its cancellation terms.
Should you decide to forgo your accommodation then you will need to pay the necessary cancellation charges – again, its worth checking with your travel insurance company to see if these fees are covered.
What happens if you had booked accommodation only through Goldtrail?
In the instance that you had only booked a hotel or accommodation through Goldtrail, then bear in mind that they are not covered under the ATOL scheme. Assuming the transaction was for more than £100 then your best bet is to approach your credit card provider if you paid by MasterCard, Visa or American Express. Another option is to approach your travel insurance company, but you will only receive a payout for your loss if the insurer offers an ‘end supplier failure’ feature in its policy.
How can these problems be avoided going forward?
If you’re yet to book a holiday abroad then it would be understandable if you shied away from the prospect for fear that a travel company may be in danger.
However, everyone deserves a break and as long as you do your homework beforehand you should be able to travel with peace of mind. Check that the travel company you are using is registered under the ATOL scheme and take out travel insurance immediately after you book your trip. Pay particular attention to the ‘end supplier failure’ option, which is not offered by all insurers, to ensure you are covered in case a company goes bust.