All Thomas Cook Flights Cancelled!! What to Do!
Around 600,000 Thomas Cook holidaymakers, 150,000 of whom are British, have been left stranded after the company went into liquidation on Sunday.
Thomas Cook was unable to secure the extra £200 million needed to keep the business afloat following a weekend of crucial talks with the major shareholder and creditors.
Government officials have drafted plans for what could be “Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation”, dubbed Operation Matterhorn, which could cost the UK up to £60m.
So what does this mean for Thomas Cook customers and do holidaymakers need to worry about the security of their bookings?
Will my holiday be affected?
The good news is that Thomas Cook package holiday customers will not be left out of pocket because these holidays are protected by the company’s Air Travel Organiser’s Licence, or Atol.
This scheme was set up in 1973 to protect holidaymakers flying overseas from being stranded if their holiday provider went bust. It guarantees customers that, should a tour operator collapse before your trip, either a refund or replacement holiday will be provided.
Atol protects bookings when flights and accommodation and/or car hire are purchased from the same operator and, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a regulator, “some flight-only bookings – usually those where you book flights but do not receive your tickets immediately”.
What kind of compensation will I get and when?
Atol will step in to help with either a refund or a replacement holiday. Martyn James, of consumer champions Resolver, said: “If you’ve booked a packaged holiday with a flight, then Atol can help with disputes and cancellations.”
However the high number of customers affected means call centres are likely to be inundated with queries, and there may be delays arranging repatriation and refunds.
The Government has said it will launch a service to manage all refunds on September 30 and that it aims to process all claims within two months.
What if I’m already abroad? Will my return flight be cancelled?
Even if you were stuck abroad, you will get whatever help you needed to enjoy your holiday then return home. The Government has promised to ensure that all British travellers who were due to fly back within the next two weeks are brought home free of charge.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date. However the CAA noted that repatriation flights are only available for passengers whose journey originated in Britain.
If you booked a Thomas Cook package holiday without a flight, the Association of British Travel Agents can help in a similar way.
Is my hotel booking protected?
Martin Lewis, founder of website MoneySavingExpert, said those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again.
But, he added, “that won’t stop a few uncertain and scared hoteliers overseas wanting money directly from British travellers to be doubly sure. This could leave British tourists in sticky situations. If so, the Civil Aviation Authority has a helpline which should sort it for you.”
Holidaymakers with accommodation booked via Thomas Cook Retail but through a third party, i.e. a booking site such as Expedia, are not financially protected. They should contact the company named on the travel documents to find out if their booking will be affected.
What if I’ve booked extras via Thomas Cook?
If you booked different elements of your holiday – flight, hotel, car hire, etc – independently through separate companies, one of which is Thomas Cook, you are unlikely to receive a refund. The exception is if you made all the different bookings via the same website, shop or call centre in the same transaction, in which case you’ll receive Atol protection.
Can I get compensation for any hotels or extras not booked via Thomas Cook?
If your holiday plans are disrupted by the Thomas Cook collapse, meaning you have to cancel other hotels or extras such as car hire that have not been organised through Thomas Cook, you may still be able to get a refund. Contact the supplier in question directly to see if you can change your booking or be refunded. Some travel insurance policies will cover you in these situations via a special ‘abandonment protection’ which compensates for consequential losses.