On Monday, British travel company Thomas Cook announced it was ceasing operations abruptly, while some of its flights were even still in the air. The sudden news left thousands of customers stranded both in airports and all over the world without any idea how they will get to where they're going, or if they will get their money back. Coupled with the demise of WOW Air in March and Primera Air in 2018 — both of which left customers in similar situations, aka stranded around the world — it's becoming more and more clear that though budget airlines and travel agencies make travel more accessible for people who otherwise might not be able to vacation at all, it's imperative that customers take extra precautions to protect their money and their trips when they book. Luckily, there are a few things everyone who books a budget airline flight or with a budget travel agency can do before traveling to protect their trip.
Sure, it's not likely that the airline you take a flight with will happen to collapse on the day of your trip. But it's also not unrealistic to worry that your trip might be compromised or cancelled due to an unforeseeable closing. Airlines can and have just completely shuttered operations while planes are in the air and itineraries are incomplete. So if that is to happen, how can you gamble on the budget company while covering your bases too? To find out, Bustle spoke to travel expert and co-founder of Expert Flyer, Chris Lopinto, about the kinds of precautions travelers can take when making travel plans to minimize your losses and maximize your security.
While you can't protect yourself 100 percent from being affected by a closure, there are ways to ensure you don't lose money, and have a back up plan to get home. Here's how to do budget travel the secure way:
Add Travel Insurance When You Book
"The easiest way to protect yourself is with travel insurance. This can usually be purchased when you are buying your flights, but that would only cover the flights you are purchasing, not any hotels and other expenses," Lopinto tells Bustle. To cover those other elements, Lopinto suggests getting your hands on "more comprehensive travel insurance, directly from a third party travel insurance provider." This will cover all the travel purchases of your trip.
Pay For Your Tickets With A Credit Card That Has Travel Insurance
Lopinto tells Bustle that many credit cards have insurance on travel-related purchases. If you're not sure if you card comes with these perks, call your credit card provider and find out what benefits it has and what the limits are of its coverage — it's important to know all of the details so that you don't have a false sense of security. That said, many major credit cards have great coverage, an in some cases, you don't even need to purchase add-on travel insurance — as your credit card provider might totally have your back, at least financially.
Track Similar Flights
Before you leave for your trip, find some similar flights leaving out of the same airports your traveling to and from and write down their numbers. On the off chance that your airline is no longer available, you'll know exactly what airline and what flight to look and hopefully be able to rebook before they fill up. This will only take a few minutes and in the case of your flight being cancelled, you'll be really glad you were a step ahead.