The details set out below appeared in the Daily Telegraph Travel Section and may serve as a warning to those considering buying flight tickets from 3 rd parties in the UK.
A couple bought flights costing £531 with Opodo for travel with Malev Airlines which went bust before the date of travel and for a variety of reasons the couple lost all the money. The key lessons for others are as follows:
ATOL Licence - Although Opodo has an ATOL licence it was not possible to claim via this route as its holiday bond did not cover flight only arrangements.
Credit Card Protection - In this instance the couple paid by debit card so the Consumer Credit Act was not relevant but even if they had paid by CC they would not have been covered as they made the payment to the agent rather than direct to the airline. There is a common misconception that the CC Act offers protection for all credit card purchases but it doesn't apply when payment is made to a 3rd party agent.
Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance - This can be bought to protect against the airline's failure but was not - in fact the underwriters withdrew this cover several months previously and when this happens most agents stop selling tickets but Opodo did not.
The position in other countries will vary as the consumer law will differ but this story reinforced my view that it is better to buy flights direct from the airline and may prove a timely warning to others about making assumptions that you will be covered by an ATOL bond or by paying with a CC.