Thomas Cook collapse – your rights on your holiday booking

Thomas Cook goes into administration

It was announced this morning (23 September 2019) that Thomas Cook has gone into administration, leaving tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad and around one million facing cancelled holidays.

Thomas Cook aeroplane tails

Current situation

All Thomas Cook flights have been cancelled.

Approximately 600,000 Thomas Cook holiday makers are abroad and over 150,000 of those are British.

Approximately one million who were due to holiday with Thomas Cook are also affected.

Your flight home if you are abroad

Thomas Cook holidays are protected by ATOL so you will be flown home at no extra cost to you. This is for flights due back to the UK between 23 September 2019 and 6 October 2019. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) aims to fly you back as near to your original date as possible. You will have accommodation paid for (although you may have to move). Your flight must have originated from the UK and be returning to the UK.

Some holiday bookings include flights with airlines unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group.  If your return flight is not with Thomas Cook’s own airline, it will still be valid. (But see below for cover regarding accommodation and transfers.)

Your accommodation if you are abroad

The CAA will try to ensure that you can continue to stay at your current accommodation. If the place where you are staying does not accept the CAA’s guarantee the CAA will need to move you. The CAA will inform suppliers of transfers etc. of your changes. If the hotel tries to take extra payment from you contact the CAA call centre on +44 1753 330 330.

Thomas Cook owns nine hotels abroad which are now closing, so you may need to be moved from one of these.

If you have booked a holiday with Thomas Cook and yet to go

No Thomas Cook flights are leaving the UK, so please do not go to the airport.

You will be able to claim a refund for your holiday through the ATOL scheme.

If your flight is with an airline unrelated to Thomas Cook you may still be able to fly but your accommodation and transfers will not be covered. You can claim for the accommodation costs if you wish to still travel but please take advice from the CAA.

If your holiday was booked through a Thomas Cook travel agent with a different travel operator

Your holiday should still go ahead but check with the travel operator.

If your holiday is a package holiday from a different firm, but with Thomas Cook flights

Your holiday could possibly still go ahead. The tour operator who put the trip together will need to try to find alternative flights. However, due to the surge on demand for flights it is likely that these will cost substantially more, and you may be asked to pay the difference. You are entitled to a full refund if you do not wish to pay the difference.

If your holiday is/was not ATOL protected

Simon Calder reported in the Independent that if you are booked on a short-haul flight to the Mediterranean, Portugal or Atlantic islands, that you will be offered a seat as part of the operation to repatriate UK holiday makers. The government decided that there is insufficient capacity among scheduled airlines and the foreign secretary said that no British holidaymakers will be stranded.

Calder said “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.”

If you are not ATOL protected (flight only or accommodation only) then look at your travel insurance which may cover you. If you paid by credit card then you can make a Section 75 claim for a refund.

How to claim through the ATOL scheme

The CAA will launch a service to manage the refund operation on Monday 30 September 2019.

It aims to refund everyone within 60 days.

You may be told to claim from your credit card provider if you paid by credit card.

Keep receipts for any ATOL protected replacement services as you will need to submit these. Bear in mind that your claim cannot exceed the cost of the package holiday.

Consequential losses

You may have booked a church, reception room or additional transport as part of your travel plans. The ATOL protection does not cover you for these. You will need to look at the terms and conditions of any bookings regarding cancellations. If you are not able to get a refund this way you may be able to claim through your travel insurance, depending on your cover.

Excursions paid for should be refunded if you booked them as part of the package.

It is unclear whether excursions previously paid for will be honoured for passengers who are already on their holiday abroad. I would advise turning up for the excursion as normal and hoping for the best. It may be different at different places.

Scams

Which? has reported scammers adding to confusion facing Thomas Cook customers. If you have been affected by the Thomas Cook collapse please read Thomas Cook refund calls and messages – is it a scam or the real deal?

CAA website details

The CAA is updating a dedicated site to the Thomas Cook situation.

Thomas Cook employees

The Insolvency Service has a page for people worried about getting their pay and redundancy money: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/thomas-cook-information-for-customers-employees-creditors-and-shareholders.

This is a useful resource  from DebtCamel 4 steps to take if you lose your job

Thomas Cook on the cliff edge

It was announced today 23 September that Thomas Cook has gone into administration. Please see

Thomas Cook collapse – your rights on your holiday booking

Operation Matterhorn gears up to rescue stranded passengers

The travel company Thomas Cook is in serious financial trouble. Unless it can find £200 million in extra funds to secure its future, it could fall into administration this weekend. This morning Thomas Cook shares, which have dropped 92% in value over the past year, hit a record low.

News broke on Thomas Cook was in financial troubles and the company has been in talks with Fosun, the largest shareholder in the company. It looked likely that the Chinese investor would buy the tour business. However, now banks (including RBS and Lloyds) have insisted that Thomas Cook come up with extra contingency funds in case they are needed over the Winter period.

Thomas Cook aeroplane tails

On Twitter, the Thomas Cook social media team is trying to alleviate fears:

But we have seen this before when companies say that all is well and often even the employees don’t know they are about to lose their jobs. For example, in August 2019 when the Malvern group went into administration the social media team were tweeting that all was well 24 hours before announcing the administration.

But of course it needs to put out these messages. Uncertainty in this situation means that fewer people book holidays, unsure whether their holiday will go ahead and so that in turn brings less money into the company.

Thomas Cook holidays are protected by ATOL so if it does fail then 150,000 stranded holiday makers will be flown home at no extra cost to themselves. They will have accommodation paid for (although they may have to move). If the company does go under the process to repatriate holiday makers would be huge. So big, in fact, that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is already on standby with a contingency plan called Operation Matterhorn, which would be the largest ever peacetime repatriation effort. The anticipated cost of this would be £600 million, borne by the tax payer.

RBS, one of Thomas Cook’s creditors, is still majority owned by the British government. Which begs the question…. If Thomas Cook needs £200 million from the banks to keep going but it would cost £600 million for a rescue effort to get people home… then why doesn’t the Government step in to force the banks to help?