What to do if your Thomas Cook flight or holiday has been cancelled

Sep 23, 2019

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On Monday, British travel group Thomas Cook ceased operations effective immediately, meaning all forward bookings (flights, hotels and package holidays) had been cancelled. The decision meant that thousands of British travellers were left stranded — some abroad — requiring the largest repatriation exercise in British peacetime history in order to get people home.

If you had a booking with Thomas Cook, here are your options.

Package holidays

Thomas Cook is a member of Air Travel Organiser’s Licence scheme (ATOL), which protects travellers on package holidays for circumstances such as this. If you were booked on a Thomas Cook package holiday, ATOL will arrange to move you to another hotel and will also arrange your return flights home, though the Civil Aviation Authority may step in to do this first given the number of travellers requiring this assistance.

If your package holiday is booked in the future and you have not yet commenced travel, ATOL will refund the complete cost of your package holiday.

Hotel or flights only

While Thomas Cook’s core business was in selling package holidays, it was possible to purchase just hotel accommodation and/or flights. If you are underway in a hotel-only booking you should check if your travel insurance covers insolvency of an airline. By way of example, the complimentary travel insurance provided by the Platinum Card from American Express UK does not exclude insolvency, so you would be covered should the hotel not be able to complete your stay.

If you are currently abroad with a flight-only return booking that was scheduled to be operated by Thomas Cook, the UK Government has announced that all travellers with a return flight back to the UK will be brought back free of charge, whether they are on an ATOL-protected package holiday or not.

According to the BBC, the CAA has chartered 45 jets to bring travellers home from locations around the world. On Monday, the CAA will operate 64 routes in an effort it’s calling Operation Matterhorn. The repatriation programme will operate for the next two weeks, until 6 October. If you’re abroad, you can check the CAA’s dedicated site for more personalised information on how to arrange your flight back to the UK.

(Image courtesy of Thomas Cook/CAA)
(Image courtesy of Thomas Cook/CAA)

Other airlines like Virgin Atlantic, and easyJet are offering special rescue fares for UK travellers stranded overseas. Passengers can choose to pay for these special fares, though the UK Government has already offered to do this for free.

If you have an upcoming flight or accommodation only with Thomas Cook and you have not commenced travel, check your travel insurance. If you do not have travel insurance or if your policy specifically excludes this event, you may wish to try to contact your credit card issuer, assuming that is how you paid for the flight. The issuer may be able to perform a charge back, as you will no longer be receiving the item you paid for.

If you still wish to travel on an upcoming journey for which you have not yet commenced, look out for special outbound fares likely to be offered by other carriers later this week, as there will be thousands of passengers with planned travel that will not be looking for alternate arrangements. The CAA says that its repatriation programme will not include outbound flights from the UK.

Featured image by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

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