Consumers are being advised to check that their 2008 holiday will be financially protected.

The warning from the Civil Aviation Authority comes in advance of the peak summer 2008 booking period.

The authority points out that its ATOL scheme protection does not apply to all air holidays, such as ‘DIY’ packages put together by consumers, so holidaymakers should not assume they are covered.

The CAA estimates that up to 18 million people travelled on DIY packages in 2007, booking their own flights and accommodation separately.

DIY holidays are not ATOL-protected, however many consumers booking their own packages mistakenly believe that they would be protected should their airline, hotel or car hire company cease trading, the CAA said

Consumer protection group director Richard Jackson said: “When you buy an air holiday package from an ATOL tour operator, you can be sure of a high level of financial protection.

“However, more and more people book and pay separate companies for their flights and accommodation but don’t realise they’re not getting the same level of protection as they do with ATOL. They could lose their money or even be stranded abroad.

“If you want to make sure your money is safe, check that an operator has an ATOL. Look for the ATOL logo and a tour operator’s licence number in brochures and on websites.

If buying online, do not book until you are sure you are covered – ask the travel firm whether you will get a full refund or be repatriated if they or a supplier stops trading – if not, think again, the CAA advised.