Thomas Cook administration - your rights explained

Date: 23 Sep 19

What happened to Thomas Cook?

Thomas Cook has gone into administration after failing to secure a £200 million load to keep the business afloat. The company has blamed Brexit, the week pound and last years UK summer for the downturn in its fortunes with passengers shying away from booking their annual package holiday. A price war that broke out with rival travel companies only compounded their woes.

What about my booking?

Anyone who booked a holiday package with Thomas Cook will be protected under the ATOL scheme. Every package holiday company pays £2.50 for every passenger into the ATOL fund to cover the cost of repatriation in the event a holiday company goes under. The ATOL scheme guarantees a full refund of your holiday cost. It will not cover the cost for a replacement holiday, car hire, any activities booked in the resort, or travel expenses getting to the airport. A separate claim for these items would need to be made against your travel insurance.

Can I get another holiday?

Unfortunately, your booking cannot be transferred and the refund process will commence on Monday 30th September 2019. Refunds will take approximately 2 months from the date of submission. You are free to book another holiday yourself but be prepared to pay a premium as rival operators hike their prices to capitalise on the desperation of Thomas Cook passengers.

I only booked flights with Thomas Cook - what are my rights?

The ATOL protection scheme only covers package holidays and not flights. If you purchased your flight via a credit card you can contact your bank and you should be entitled to a full refund under their Section 75 rules. Flights booked via debit card MAY also be clawed back from your bank but this is more difficult. 

Other alternatives are to look into the terms and conditions of your travel insurance. Only 50% of the insurance policies we looked at covered the travel company going bust so you will need to check your individual policy to see if it has this clause. Buying travel insurance at the same time as you book your flights is always good practice as is buying a policy with a high Defaqto rating.

I'm abroad already - how do I get home?

For those currently on holiday, the advice given is to enjoy it as best you can and wait for the CAA announcement on your replacement flight. This flight could still be on a Thomas Cook plane flown by other pilots, a scheduled flight or a charter flight. Reports that hoteliers are demanding payment from guests before they will be allowed to leave are isolated as the hoteliers will also be paid via the ATOL scheme - under no circumstances should you pay any additional fees as there will be no guarantee that you will be able to claim this back.

The CAA has stated that some of these flights may not take you to your home airport but any passengers not taken back to their original departure point will be provided with a free transfer.

The repatriation process will operate until 5th October 2019 - if you are still abroad after this date you may have to find your own way home and claim the cost back later. The special CAA website has more information.

I booked a sports package with Thomas Cook - am I covered?

If you booked a hospitality package with Thomas Cook we have yet to hear whether you will receive a refund. Your first and best port of call would be to your credit/debit card company.


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