Thomas Cook, one of the nation’s oldest airlines, has plunged into bankruptcy after failing to pay off £200 million to creditors.
The popular airline collapsed on Sunday 22nd September, with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggesting that 150,000 customers are abroad using Thomas Cook. Amidst this plunge into liquidation, it is said that 9,000 British employees may lose their jobs. The firm entered administration today and all travellers have been told to stay at home and not travel to the airport as all flights are permanently at a halt. Over 500 stores are to be closed when leases come to an end, with more than 150 jobs being lost within head office.
Got a flight or a holiday booked with Thomas Cook? Not to worry. Here’s what to do in order to get home or to get your money back:
What if I have booked and I am yet to travel?
In light of the hundreds of thousands of customers worried about their flights and whether or not they’ll be able to obtain refunds, Thomas Cook has issued a statement on its website to communicate this with travellers. “If you are due to depart from a UK airport with Thomas Cook Airlines, please do not travel to your UK airport as your flight will not be in operation”. The tour operator has now ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights have been cancelled.
Thomas Cook has assured its customers that they will not be out of pocket as they are protected by the ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licence). This means if a company with an ATOL does go out of business, customers that have booked holidays or are already overseas on holiday will be guaranteed return or their money back. On the other end of the spectrum, if you book flights and accommodation separately, you must speak to your credit card or travel insurance company.
What if I am abroad and I need to get back to the UK?
If you are currently abroad, Thomas Cook has stated that you shouldn’t travel to the airport to get back to the UK until your flight departure has been confirmed via the Thomas Cook website. You can check out the information for it here at thomascook.caa.co.uk.
What sort of bookings are protected?
The ATOL scheme protects bookings that come as part of a package. This includes flights and accommodation, or flights and car hire. Alternatively, travellers can also be protected by flight-only bookings if they have booked with an ATOL licensed travel agent. From this, you can either finish your holiday and return home or those customers that have not yet left the UK, can either be given a refund or a holiday in exchange.
If your holiday is not ATOL protected, customers may have to pay for their own flight home as not all insurance policies cover a firm when they declare bankruptcy. However, in this case, the DfT has said every customer on a Thomas Cook holiday that has a return flight for the UK within two weeks will be brought home without having to pay extra.
How do I know if I am ATOL protected?
If your flight/holiday is ATOL protected, you will receive an ATOL certificate when you have made a payment towards your booking. This will be either by mail or post and will look like this:
When will I get a refund?
The CAA has stated that they will be managing all refunds for the flights on Monday 30th September. As this service will be taking in a high demand of requests, it will seek to process all refunds within 2 months of a fully completed claims form.
If there are any further queries or need more information on the situation, customers are advised to visit the dedicated website at thomascook.caa.co.uk.
Words by Umarah Hussain.