/ Travel & Leisure

Cheaper or more secure – how do you like your holiday?

What’s your attitude to risk? That’s normally a question you might hear from a financial adviser before they start discussing investments. But it can equally apply to holidays.

What matters most to you? The price of a holiday or the security attached to it if something goes wrong?

It’s an important question, since our latest Which? Travel study suggests it’s possible to get a cheaper deal if you opt for a more risky option.

Our research found that you might get a lower price by booking flights and accommodation direct with the airlines and hotels, rather than as a package from a single website.

We looked at 40 city breaks and found that in only six cases was it cheaper to buy as a package rather than by going separately to the airline and hotel.

But there’s another price to pay if you go for the cheaper deal.

Package deals get Atol protection

Buying both the flight and hotel from one website will give you the protection of the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme, or Atol. This means that if an airline or other company goes bust you’ll get your money back or be brought home if you’re already on holiday.

The scheme was tightened this year so that every website selling a flight with accommodation or car hire gives you Atol protection.

And as some of the travel collapses of previous years demonstrate, such as when thousands of people were brought home at no extra cost when the XL Leisure Group folded in 2008, it’s a protection worth having.

But perhaps you’re happy to take the risk of booking direct in order to save money? Or do you think protection should be provided no matter how you book your holiday?


We think there is less risk from booking flights and a hotel separately for a European city break than for a resort holiday where a package probably makes more sense [and certainly is more convenient for those all-important transfers to and from the airport]. City break packages often don’t offer the kind of hotel and location we want [although Eurostar are good at that as they think: “coming by train”]. We find the major airlines are fairly competitive on price and do offer a better flight experience and transport to and from the hotel is usually trouble-free, especially since we have less luggage for a city break.

Booking independently gives you a lot more flexibility and you choice of hotel and paying by credit card reduces the risks.

A package holiday does however get you home if everything goes pear-shaped and you dont have the risk of the airline pulling the flight and leaving you with a hotel booking .

I think if you are doing it yourself and using low-cost flights you should be able in an emergency to fund a different flight home and not be reliant on needing to be at work next day !