Thomas Cook, the oldest travel agency, filed for bankruptcy on 23rd of September 2019, failing to find the necessary funds to survive, sparking an unprecedented repatriation of more than 600,000 holidaymakers worldwide.
Hundreds of thousands of travellers, customers of the company, remain trapped abroad.
In particular, the British authorities should plan the return of 150,000 UK nationals within the next two weeks, twice as many as when Monarch went bankrupt two years ago.
The chief executive of the British company, Peter Fankhauser, expressed his deep regret over the company’s bankruptcy as the board failed to obtain a bailout from its lenders to avoid a chaotic collapse.
“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers and our thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years” Fankhauser said in a statement issued in the early hours.
“Thomas Cook has stopped trading, so the company’s flights have now been canceled” the British Civil Aviation Authority said.
“Overseas customers should only visit www.thomascook.caa.co.uk and go to the airport only when they have a confirmed alternative flight”, the British Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) quoted the special telephone numbers.
Traveler helpline: 0300 303 2800 for calls from the UK and Ireland, and 0044 1753 330 330 from abroad.
Customers already abroad
If you are currently abroad and your flight was with Thomas Cook they are providing new flights to return you to the UK. These repatriation flights will only be operating for the next two weeks (until 6 October 2019). After this date you will have to make your own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights.
Do I need to pay again for my accommodation?
No. The CAA is contacting hoteliers and apartment owners to tell them that they will cover the payments that would be due from Thomas Cook.
I am abroad with a flight-only Thomas Cook ticket and no Atol protection. What happens to me?
If you have booked on a flight to the Mediterranean, Portugal or Atlantic islands, you will be offered a seat in the airlift operation. The UK government has taken the view that there is insufficient capacity among scheduled airlines and the foreign secretary said that no British holidaymakers will be stranded.
This assurance may not apply for long-haul flights. But “rescue” fares will be provided by other airlines, such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, United, American Airlines and Delta.
Each airline normally announces its policy within 24 hours of any collapse. Fares are likely to be £150-£200 one-way, on production of proof of a Thomas Cook booking.
You can then claim back the cost of the original flight from the credit-card provider or travel insurance.
I am abroad on a package holiday from another tour operator, but which uses Thomas Cook Airlines flights. What happens?
Your tour operator (the holiday company that put the trip together) has primary responsibility to find an alternative flight for you. If you are in Europe, you are likely to be booked on one of the Operation Matterhorn airlift flights. From long-haul destinations your tour operator should come up with an alternative. This should be at no cost to yourself.
Customers yet to travel out of the UK
All future holidays and flights booked with Thomas Cook are cancelled as of 23 September 2019.
Will I get my money back?
Yes. All package holidays sold in the UK are protected by the Atol scheme, administered by the CAA.
Current customers who paid for some or all of the trip by credit card will be told to apply to their card issuer for a full refund, whether for a package holiday or a flight-only ticket.
People who paid for a package holiday with a debit card should make a claim under the Atol scheme. However, because of the scale of the collapse, obtaining a refund could take months.
Flight-only customers who paid with a debit card can ask the bank for reimbursement under the chargeback scheme. Although there is no legal requirement for debit card issuers to pay out if the supplier collapses, this voluntary scheme is likely to provide cover.
If, for some reason, your bank does not refund you, travel insurance may help.
I have flight-only tickets with Thomas Cook. Who refunds me?
These are unlikely to be Atol protected. If you paid with a credit card, you should be able to get a refund under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act – as long as the purchase is over £100. If it is less than that, or you paid with a debit card, go for chargeback.
If you handed over cash to pay for the flights, your best hope is travel insurance.
I booked Thomas Cook flights, but arranged accommodation and car rental separately. Who do I claim from?
You have no automatic right of refund. Ask the providers of they room and rental car if they will allow you to cancel without penalty. If they do not offer a refund, you then have the option to go ahead with the trip using replacement flights (which could well be more expensive) or abandon the holiday and try to claim for “consequential losses” from your insurer.
I booked a holiday through a Thomas Cook travel agent with a different tour operator. Will my trip still go ahead?
Almost certainly, although you will need to contact the tour operator to check the status of your booking.
I really need to travel. Will fares on other airlines increase?
Yes, prices are likely to increase in response to the sudden surge of demand from desperate holidaymakers. But if you can bide your time it is possible that other airlines will offer special low fares to travellers who can show they were originally booked on Thomas Cook.