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Travel Industry Terms Jargon Buster

At HolidayCompensationClaims we realise that the travel industry related words that we use day in day out are not what everyone else is used to hearing. Below we attempt to explain some of the abbreviations and lingo that we have used in our accident and illness pages.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A La Carte

The phrase used to describe dining by way of waiter service or an individually priced menu – as opposed to a self-service buffet.


The abbreviation for the Association of British Travel Agents which is the organisation that all responsible UK tour operators and travel agents should belong to. ABTA are responsible for raising standards across the travel industry – whether it is to do with the way a holiday is sold or the quality or safety of your holiday. You should be wary about booking package holidays companies that are not ABTA members.

ABTA Code of Conduct

These are the rules that the members of ABTA should oblige by. The Code of Conduct covers just about every aspect of a holiday ranging from the advice you must be given about building work before you travel to response times for complaints after travel. Be careful because the Code of Conduct is not enshrined in law - although ABTA can fine its members for not obliging with it.

ABTA Arbitration Scheme

The document only form of dispute resolution administered by ABTA. Arbitration is a means of resolving a dispute with a tour operator without having to go to court.


This phrase often has two meanings when used by Travel Professionals. Most commonly the term is used to describe hotel board where all meals and drinks are included. However the phrase is sometimes used to describe “air-inclusive” package holidays where flights, accommodation and transport to the hotel are included as part of a package holiday.


The group of Mediterranean Islands, governed by Spain, which includes Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca.


This is when an air passenger is denied boarding despite having a valid ticket for sale due to the airline over-filling their seat allocation. Strict rules prohibit this activity.

Canary Islands

The group of Atlantic Islands, again governed by Spain which includes, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.


The group of Islands that exists in the Caribbean Sea that includes popular holiday destinations such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados and Saint Lucia.

Civil Aviation Authority

Formerly known as ATOL, this is the UK organisation that regulates the Aviation Industry. Their remit covers everything from delayed flights, operational activity at airports and, most importantly, flight safety. The Civil Aviation Authority has the power to fine its members if an airline is in breach of certain laws such as the Denied Boarding Regulations. Their website has very useful information relating to the rights of air passengers.

Charter Flights

These are flights purchased for a particular purpose whereby a travel company will usually rent an aircraft for a specific journey or journeys. For example, during the peak season a tour operator will charter lots of flights to popular holiday destinations.


A warning the comes up on the travel agent screen or website that advises you of a particular issue affecting the hotel or problem with the web description such as the swimming pool not being available for the duration of the holiday.


A trip organised for a group of people usually for leisure purposes. We recommend that you book your excursion before you book as part of a package holiday with a UK company. In that way you can sue in the UK if you suffer injury or illness.


The abbreviation for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO website includes very useful information about travel destinations including details of health and political issues affecting overseas countries. Before booking overseas travel and before actually traveling, holidaymakers should check the website.


This is the abbreviation for the Federation of Tour Operators. The FTO are group of the UK’s leading tour operators including Thomas Cook, TUI (including First Choice and Thomson), Cosmos and Virgin. The predominant role is to encourage better standards of health, safety and hygiene across the industry and abroad. The FTO, which predominantly exists for the benefit of their members, is linked to ABTA that exists for the benefit of consumers.

Half Board

The hotel board basis that includes bed, breakfast and an evening meal.


The International Air Transport Association. The international organisation responsible for serving the airline industry.

Long-haul Flights

Flights that typically take more than 6.5 hours to complete, typically operated by wide bodied aircraft including Boeing 747s, 767s and 777s and Airbus A330s, A340s and A380s. Popular holiday destinations include Cancun, Cuba, Goa and Dubai.

Medium-haul Flights

Flights that take in the region of 3 to 5 hours to complete including flights to Turkey, Egypt and Gambia.

Package Travel, Package Tour and Package Holiday Regulations 1992

The rules that determine the responsibilities of those involved in the provision and sale of package holidays.

Package Holiday

The definition of a package holiday is enshrined in law and will typically include flights, accommodation and overseas transport sold at one all-inclusive price. Consumers need to be careful about whether or not they are booking a package holiday.

Peak Season

This refers to the period in July and August when holidays are at their most popular – and most expensive!

Short-haul Flights

flights that are under 3 hours in duration.

Traveller's Diarrhoea

The food poisoning type illness that foreign holiday makers suffer from while on holiday, Symptoms can include diarrhoea and vomiting and the germs that cause it range from salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter which is caused by contaminated food and drink and cryptosporodium which are usually from contaminated water.

Tour Operator

company that organises holidays and travel services. In the past the services are have been sold by travel agents although bookings with tour operators are increasingly made directly.

Travel Agent

A company that sells holidays and transport services, usually on behalf of airlines and tour operators.

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Author: © 2014

Dated: 25/03/2014

Paul Stevens - Group Travel Litigation Claims Manager