On September 23rd, a lot of holidaymakers will have woken up to the unwelcome news that popular travel agent Thomas Cook is no longer trading.
While this has been expected for some time, the fact that they were unable to find a bailout for their latest financial trouble will certainly dampen the holiday spirit of anyone who had recently booked a trip.
The immediate concern is for people who were already out on their holiday when the news broke. The government has stepped in to ensure that anybody stranded on a Thomas Cook holiday or waiting for a Thomas Cook flight is able to get home safely. If this applies to you then you should already have been given information about how to get home – you may even have returned to the UK already. However, instructions are a little less clear for people wondering what to do about a holiday that they have booked for the future. Here is the essential information:
If you booked an ATOL protected package holiday, then you’ll need to make a claim on (or after) September 30th.
Fortunately, pretty much all of Thomas Cook’s package holidays should be ATOL protected, which means the vast majority of customers will be entitled to a refund. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll receive your money back automatically, or straight away. Instead, you’ll need to make a claim. The Civil Aviation Authority will be launching a dedicated claims handling system for Thomas Cook passengers on 30/09, and once they do, you’ll need to share some information about your holiday. Once your claim has been submitted, they will aim to make the repayment within 60 days. This seems like a reasonable timeframe – two months is more than long enough for anyone to be out of pocket – so we hope that the volume of claims doesn’t cause delays.
If you’re currently abroad but had a return flight booked for later than October 6th, you’ll need to make alternative arrangements.
People who are already abroad but not planning to come home within the next fortnight won’t be covered by the government’s repatriation efforts. This means you’ll need to book your own alternative transport. If your holiday is ATOL protected then you’ll be eligible to claim back the money spent on your new flight. Otherwise, this will have to come from your own funds.
For people who used Thomas Cook to book flights only, getting a refund may depend on your payment method.
Payments of over £100 should be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, meaning that you can claim the money back from your credit card company. If you bought flights in this manner, then this is how you’ll need to reclaim your money. Unfortunately, if you paid by cash or debit card then things might be more difficult. In some rare cases, your flight may be ATOL protected despite not being part of a package deal. However, it is more likely that you will be unable to get a refund for these flights.
An informative article with extensive guides can be found on Which.co.uk.
Further information on ATOL protection can be found here.
Still not sure what to do next? Head to the Civil Aviation Authority’s dedicated help pages for more information.