Parents and teachers planning overseas study trips are being warned to ensure their travel carries Atol protection before booking.

The caution came from the Civil Aviation Authority today (Wednesday) as pupils return from the summer break.

The regulator said parents could be left “substantially out of pocket” or their children stranded abroad if their travel company were to cease trading without the financial protection offered by the Atol scheme.

Parents have lost up to £750 each when their travel company ceased trading because bookings were not Atol protected. 

The CAA said: “Specialist travel providers have made it easier than ever to book trips that are suited to the needs of the passengers, school trip bookings being no exception.

“However, with specialist travel companies it is much more important to verify their legitimacy and ensure that any claims of being Atol protected are verified by searching for them on our website.” 

CAA head of Atol Andy Cohen said: “We are aware of some companies operating in niche markets to sell educational trips without providing Atol protection.

“At worst, these companies use this to illegally sell packages with the intention of disappearing with the money, leaving schools, teachers and parents out of pocket. 

“Without Atol protection, even if the travel company does successfully organise a package trip, students could be left in vulnerable positions.

“It is vital that schools ensure they are booking an Atol protected package and that all aspects of their booking are protected.” 

The CAA has a dedicated webpage for schools considering booking overseas trips for their students, with advice on how to be safe and responsible when considering travel companies.