Airline Thomas Cook gave way to its financial pressures this morning, impacting 600,000 passengers around the world.
Experts say that many customers will be covered and the government has embarked on the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation in history, but what should you do if you have a ticket with Thomas Cook?
If you are abroad
Don’t worry. You’re not likely to be stranded, but you might need to plan for delays in the days ahead.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will make sure you get home over the next few weeks. The body has been asked by the government to run a repatriation programme until 6 October to bring back 150,000 people stranded abroad.
It has found planes to jet these passengers home. Although some will get back on commercial flights.
“The Civil Aviation Authority will endeavour to get people home as close as possible to their planned dates,” it said. This will apply both to customers with Atol protection, and those without.
“We have launched, at very short notice, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines, involving a fleet of aircraft secured from around the world,” said chief executive Richard Moriarty.
If you want to check what applies to you, the CAA has a dedicated website for Thomas Cook customers. Don’t go to the airport as your original flight has been cancelled.
If you have extra costs because of the delayed flights you might be able to reclaim some of them if your journey has Atol protection.
There have been reports of Brits being locked into their hotels, and worried hoteliers might demand you settle their bill. But Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert said you should not pay again. Call the CAA’s helpline instead if you need help.
If you’re due to travel with Thomas Cook
If you booked your holiday as part of a package, don’t worry too much. Customers who book package holidays will be covered by Atol (Air Travel Organiser’s Licence), and should be able to get a refund.
But Adam French at consumer rights firm Which said customers who only booked flights might not be Atol protected. If so, “you may be able to claim the cost back through your travel insurance or credit card issuer.”
Martin Lewis said: “Most who haven’t travelled will have a route to get their cash back, but this unprecedentedly large repatriation and refund operation will not be without problems.”
Travel insurance is unlikely to help as company failure is rarely included – but make sure to check your policy.
If you’re not on an Atol scheme, but you paid with a credit card you should be able to get your money back from your card provider. This applies on any charges between £100 and £30,000. But it is not valid if you booked via an agency or some Paypal transactions.
If you paid by debit card, Martin Lewis said, you can ask your bank to do a chargeback. They will get your money back from Thomas Cook’s bank.
If you paid by cheque or cash, there’s not much to be done unfortunately.
If you are thinking of booking a Thomas Cook holiday
Don’t book it! At least don’t Thomas Cook it!
Hopefully you shouldn’t be able to in the first place. But all flights with Thomas Cook have been cancelled. If you somehow are able to book one now you will not be allowed to travel on it, and might lose your money.
There are other airlines and tour operators out there. Try them instead.