How to protect yourself from risky travel companies

Waiting at the airportYou booked your holiday to Buenos Aires six months ago, booked your two weeks off with the boss, planned your itinerary – and you’re ready and excited to leave next week.

That is – until you find out that your airline went bankrupt.


What do you do?  Who do you call?  What do you do if you’re stuck in Cancun when your vacation provider shuts down? 

How can travel consumers protect themselves from failing travel companies, bankrupt airlines and risky tour operators?

“You’ve got to have a ‘Buyer Beware’ mentality when it comes to travel these days,” advises Steven Kaufman, CTC and travel expert for, “but there are a number of things you should know as a travel consumer that can help protect you from fiascos like Conquest Vacations or airline bankruptcies.”

Get some great insider tips from on how to deal with bankrupt airlines, travel companies and risky travel bookings below. Get more tips from like Using a Travel Agent: Pros & Cons or Reasons Why You Need Trip Cancellation Insurance.

What to do if your airline goes bankrupt!

AirlinesSay you’re already in Buenos Aires having the time of your life and suddenly you hear from your hotel concierge that the airline you’ve booked your flight home with has gone bankrupt. 

Tip #1: Don’t freak out.  95% of airlines are part of IATA, the International Air Transport Association (  As part of IATA, documents are shared and in the rare event that your airline goes bankrupt, another IATA airline will ensure that passengers’ airline tickets are still honoured.  You’ll receive credit for your ticket and may have to pay a difference for the new (working) airline ticket. 

Use Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario-based travel agents or companies

The Quebec and B.C. government and TICO (The Travel Industry Council of Ontario, all work to regulate travel in their jurisdictions.  So in the unlikely event that you book travel (flights, packages, hotels) with a Quebec, B.C. or Ontario-based travel agent or company that goes bankrupt, the Quebec/B.C. government or TICO in Ontario will cover you with either a full refund or an exchange for comparable service (they will help you re-book your holiday to Buenos Aires).

This applies even if you live in another province.  If you live in Alberta and buy from a B.C. travel agent, you’ll be covered, though this is usually hush-hush. A similar travel consumer protection program in the United States is available only through California.

Always use a credit card when booking travel for extra protection

Although credit card companies are usually seen as “the bad guy,” what consumers don’t realize is that credit card use also gives an extra layer of protection when purchases are made.  

For nearly every credit card, the fine print states that if you purchase a service/good and it is not received (even if you’ve already paid it off), then you can contact your credit card company and they will deal with it.  They’ll open a case and investigate the company that didn’t provide the purchase. 

The best way to protect yourself when booking travel

“If you’re looking to get the most protection possible when you book your airfare, hotels or car rentals, then use a travel agent,” says Kaufman.  “They’ve got lots of insider information what’s happening in the travel industry, they know which airlines are doing well – and which ones aren’t.  They can give you the scoop and make sure that you won’t run into any problems with airlines, hotels, and etc.”

If you’re lookingto book a holiday or find a travel agent today, be sure to check out’s Trip Builder where you can connect with over 104,000 travel agents worldwide who are ready to offer you the best deals on your trip.


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