In the early hours of yesterday morning it was announced the UK’s oldest travel company, Thomas Cook, had ceased trading. With around 150,000 holidaymakers currently overseas and many more with holidays booked, what happens now?
Client is abroad now on a Thomas Cook holiday - what should they do?
The CAA are providing new flights to return you to the UK. These flights are operating for the next two weeks (from 23 September until 6 October 2019).
Depending on the travellers location, this will be either on CAA-operated flights or by using existing flights with other airlines. Note that repatriation flights are only available or passengers whose journey originated in the UK.
If you are due to return home after 6 October you will have to make you own travel arrangements. From a small number of locations, passengers will have to book their own return flights.
For further details you should visit the CAA website set up for Thomas Cook passengers or use the telephone numbers below:
- From overseas, call: +44 1753 330 330.
- From within the UK call 0300 303 2800.
Can clients stay in their hotels?
The CAA will seek to guarantee the client's stay by dealing directly with hoteliers. It may take the CAA a few days to secure these arrangements. While arrangements are being made,the advice is to not make any additional payments unless instructed to do so by the Civil Aviation Authority.
If your client is having difficulty and the holiday is ATOL protected they should call +44 1753 330 330.
Client has a future holiday booked with Thomas Cook - what should they do?
If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook airlines, the advice is not to travel to the airport as the flight will not be operating and they will not be able to travel.
If the holiday is ATOL protected (package holidays) they will be entitled to a full refund for the cancelled holiday. The CAA will be launching a service to manage all refunds on Monday 30 September,once the flying operation has progressed. This refund service will seek to process all refunds within two months of receipt of a fully completed claims form.
Further information on how to claim will be available in the coming days.
The guidance is to not submit anything to the CAA in the meantime as the organisation continues to focus on the repatriation flying programme to return more than 150,000 passengers to the UK.
How do we know if a holiday is ATOL protected?
If your client has booked a package holiday they will have been given an ATOL certificate as part of the paperwork. They can also use this link to find out if their holiday is classed as a package.
Note ATOL protection does not apply if you have bought flights directly from the airline and flight-only arrangements bought through a travel agent are not always protected either. For more information on these exceptions, you should direct clients to the ATOL website.
What if the holiday is not ATOL protected?
If you have flight only tickets with Thomas Cook they are unlikely to be ATOL protected. If they paid with a credit card they 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 they paid with a debit card, they should ask their bank for reimbursement under the “charge back” scheme.
What about Travel Insurance?
If the holiday is not ATOL protected and you have been declined a refund by their credit or debit card provider you may be able to claim on their Travel Insurance, but only if their policy includes End Supplier Failure Insurance (ESFL) so please check that you have this on their policy.
To submit a claim via ESFI clients should contact International Passenger Protection on 0345 266 1872.