Thomas Cook — the UK's oldest holiday company — has collapsed, leaving around 150,000 Brits stranded abroad and many more with their future holidays cancelled. In times like these, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with all the information swirling around. Will you get your money back? How do you get home if you're stuck abroad? Will you still be able to go on holiday? These questions are answered in our (relatively) simple guide to what to do if you're affected by Thomas Cook's shutdown.
Firstly, don't panic. A huge operation is underway to get you home if you're currently on holiday with further plans being put in place for those with upcoming bookings. Some information is, however, still up in the air, so the best place to keep checking is the Civil Aviation Authority's Thomas Cook site. If you can't access the site, you can call one of two numbers: freephone 0300 303 2800 if you're in the UK, or +44 1753 330 330 if abroad.
Keep reading for the answers to your flight and accommodation questions.
I'm currently on holiday and am due to fly back with Thomas Cook.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is arranging new flights to take travellers home as part of Operation Matterhorn. However, these will only be running until Oct. 6, 2019. If your return flight is scheduled for after that date, you will have to book your own flight. You may be able to claim the cost back through your travel insurance provider or, if the cost is over £100, via your credit card company, reports the Guardian. But this all depends on individual terms and conditions.
If your flight was scheduled before Oct. 6, the CAA will arrange another one. This may be at a different date or time to your original flight and may require you to fly into a different UK airport. (If this is the case, onward transportation will be provided.) New return journeys will be published here, so keep checking for the latest update.
You are advised to arrive at the airport at least three hours before your new departure time as most flights will require check-in at the airport rather than online. Bring your original tickets or booking confirmation to the airport as evidence so they can be swapped with new boarding passes at check-in.
When Monarch Airlines collapsed in 2017, 98% of passengers were flown home on the same day as their original departure flight, per the Guardian, so your holiday is unlikely to be cut short.
I'm on holiday and am having problems with my hotel.
There have been reports of hotels asking tourists to pay extra fees and refusing to let them leave, per the BBC. But as Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis writes, "those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again."
If you're having hotel issues, contact the CAA on +44 1753 330 330. The authority is working to guarantee stays with hotels, but it may take a few days to arrange. It is advising holidaymakers not to make any additional payments to hotels unless told to by the CAA. If it can't come to an arrangement with your hotel, you may be transferred to another one.
I have a future booking with Thomas Cook.
Unfortunately, your holiday and/or flights have been cancelled. If you are due to fly in the next few days, do not make your way to the airport as your flight no longer exists.
If you booked a Thomas Cook package holiday with a flight included, you will be protected under the ATOL scheme, states Money Saving Expert. Package holidays without a flight are ABTA-protected. Again, the CAA is working on issuing guidance for refunds and will launch a service on Sept. 30, 2019. This will allow protected holidaymakers to apply for a refund, which will take around two months to process.
If your Thomas Cook package flight is with another airline, you may still be able to travel, but you may need to re-book accommodation and transfers. Check with the airline regarding travel arrangements. However, you are still entitled to a refund if you decide not to fly.
There is a slim chance that ATOL will appoint a "fulfilment partner" for holidays booked in future months, reports the Guardian. But this is not guaranteed. Right now, future travellers will have to wait until Sept. 30 to find out.
If your holiday is not protected, you may be able to get your money back via your card provider or bank. "Travel insurance won’t help for most, as travel company failure cover is rarely included as standard — though check your policy or give them a call," writes Money Saving Expert's Lewis.
Credit card transactions over £100 are legally protected. If you paid by debit card, ask your bank to do a chargeback. It's still unclear if direct debit payments are covered, but stay tuned. "Those who paid by other methods such as cheques or cash have very little protection sadly," Lewis adds.
I bought a Thomas Cook gift card.
Unfortunately, Thomas Cook gift cards are now invalid. But, again, you can contact your credit card provider or bank for a potential refund.
I am owed money from Thomas Cook for a flight earlier in the year that was cancelled.
Passengers owed money from the airline for a previous flight delay are unlikely to ever receive it, notes the Independent.