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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.


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:

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

By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

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