What does the Thomas Cook collapse mean for holidaymakers?

After last-minute negotiations to try and save the company, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that  Thomas Cook, the UK’s 5th largest airline, has ‘ceased trading with immediate effect’.

But with many holidaymakers stranded abroad or due to travel in the coming months, how will Thomas Cook customers be affected by the collapse?

In order to provide clarity, the CAA has posted the following advice for travellers on thomascook.caa.co.uk:

ATOL protection 

Under the ATOL protection scheme, consumers who buy holiday packages through a UK tour operator, like Thomas Cook, are covered for their costs.

So, if you have booked a package through the company that includes flights, you should be protected and won’t lose any money. If you have ATOL protection, you should have received a certificate via post or email when you booked the holiday.

Other consumer protection 

If you don’t have ATOL protection, there may be other ways you can claim your money back. For example, try contacting your card issuer, bank, or travel insurance provider to see if you can claim a refund. Alternatively, you may be covered by a trade organisation, such as ABTA.

For passengers currently stranded abroad but travelling home before the 6th October, the CCA is arranging alternative flights. However, if you’re travelling after this date, you will need to make your own arrangements for flights and claiming a refund.

Additional advice

According to Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert, ‘Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook will be incredibly worried, especially if they’re currently still on holiday and stranded abroad.

The good news is that Atol protection will mean they will be flown back home free of charge. Customers who have already paid and booked for an upcoming holiday with the collapsed travel operator should also be entitled to a refund as part of the scheme.

However, if you didn’t book as part of a package you might not be Atol protected, but you may be able to claim the cost back through your travel insurance or credit card issuer – it will depend on your circumstances.’

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