Britain’s oldest travel agent, Thomas Cook, has gone bust. It entered compulsory liquidation and went into administration yesterday (22nd September 2019), and stopped trading with immediate effect, leaving more than 150,000 British holidaymakers stranded around the world.
Here is everything you should know about Thomas Cook going bust, including useful information for those who have booked a future trip with the company or are currently on a Thomas Cook holiday.
I haven’t travelled yet – what happens now that Thomas Cook is bust?
If you haven’t set off for your holiday yet, the chances are that your holiday has been cancelled and you should not go to the airport – there is nothing that anybody there will be able to do to help.
Packaged holidays – Is my holiday cancelled? Will Thomas Cook customers get their money back?
If you booked a package holiday with Thomas Cook then your holiday is cancelled and you will receive a full refund in the coming months as all Thomas Cook packaged holidays are ATOL protected.
What is ATOL protection?
ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) offers financial protection to those who have purchased packaged holidays from registered tour operators. It makes sure that you are not out of pocket if your holiday arrangements are affected due to the collapse of a travel company.
Visit ATOL's website to find out more about making a claim.
If your packaged holiday includes flights with an airline other than Thomas Cook Airlines, you might still be able to catch your flight, but all other arrangements (such as accommodation) will likely be cancelled. If you are unsure whether or not your plans will be affected, you can contact them directly to find out.
A service designed to take care of all ATOL refunds for Thomas Cook customers will be in place by Monday, September 30th.
I’ve booked a flight with Thomas Cook Airlines – what do I do?
If you booked your holiday without the use of a travel agent then you might be okay – just make sure that neither your outbound nor inbound flights are with Thomas Cook Airlines, as any future flights with Thomas Cook airlines have been cancelled.
If your holiday is flight-only then you are unlikely to receive ATOL protection, but might be covered by your travel insurance policy for a flight cancellation refund with Thomas Cook if you have taken one out – check the terms of your policy for cover against “scheduled airline failure” to see if you are covered.
Some travel insurers also offer add-ons to reimburse you for any further expenses such as accommodation and car hire.
Purchases made between £100 and £30,000 with a credit card might also be protected by your card issuer.
I’m already on holiday – what happens now?
If you are already abroad and have booked your package holiday with Thomas Cook then, unfortunately, your holiday arrangements will almost certainly be affected.
Will I be flown home?
Yes. Even if your holiday is not ATOL protected, the UK government have made it clear that all Brits will be flown home as long as their departure date is within the next 2 weeks (before October 6th). Anybody due to return home after this date will have to make their own arrangements.
There are likely to be significant delays and holidaymakers are being warned not to make their way to the airport until they have received official confirmation that there is a flight there for them – there is also a chance that the flight may take you to a different airport in the UK, with buses on hand to take you to your initial departure destination.
My hotel is demanding that I pay more
Hotels are typically not paid by travel agents until 60 – 90 days after you return home, meaning that they may ask you to either leave or pay extra.
The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has already begun contacting hotels to inform them that they will be paid, however in the unlikely scenario that you are asked to pay more, a spokesperson for the CAA has said that you should contact them immediately – they will settle any of the bills that you have been ordered to pay directly.
You can contact the dedicated CAA helpline on +441753 330330.
Claiming on your travel insurance policy
It is in unfortunate scenarios like this that travel insurance really starts to show its worth, with hundreds of thousands of pounds likely to be claimed in the coming weeks and months.
Most travel insurance providers will offer cover for when a company goes bust, but this is often not included with a basic level of insurance that is offered as an add-on to services like bank accounts.
Before paying your excess and claiming on your travel insurance policy, be sure to check if you are entitled for a full refund from the CAA.