Here are your legal rights to claim compensation for cancelled holidays and flights.
At 2am, 23rdSeptember, Thomas Cook unfortunately went into administration after failing to secure a rescue package with its creditors and the banks – including Lloyds and tax-owned RBS.
The news leaves 150,000 people stranded across the globe, with the UK Government obliged to organise the largest peacetime repatriation in history.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has stated all those affected will be brought home as close to possible to their booked return date.
The taxpayer will be funding the costs and the hiring of aircrafts alone will cost millions of pounds.
Your legal rights to getting home on another flight depends on what type of holiday you booked. You may have to pay the cost yourself.
What Happens Next?
If you booked your trip as a package holiday, it will be protected by ATOL which means your money should be covered in full and you should get an alternative flight back booked for you.
You will, however, need to contact the company you booked your package holiday with and also the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
Packaged holidays are ATOL-protected which means if a company goes bust, your money should be covered. Thomas Cook customers that are currently abroad on a package holiday should get an alternative flight booked for them.
Despite newspaper reports, passengers are not left stranded, but they will need to contact the company they booked their package holiday with and the CAA. The websites below should be of assistance.
Stranded passengers are urged to act fast as the repatriation scheme is only available for the next two weeks and for passengers whose flight originated form the UK. If you are traveling back after that date you will need to make your own arrangements.
The hotels that holiday-makers are staying in are also suffering financial losses due to the collapse of Thomas Cook. Some hotels may, therefore, ask you to make additional payments. You should keep receipts for all extra payments you make so you can claim the costs back through the CAA when you get back to the UK.
If you have booked a holiday with Thomas Cook and are still yet to travel, you should be able to get a full refund, but you will unfortunately have to rearrange your trip.
What happens if I am currently on my Thomas Cook holiday?
Already in action is the UK government operation Matterhorn. This repatriation programme will run through the next two weeks until the 6thOctober to bring anyone still abroad back to the UK. After this date, you will need to make your own arrangements to return to the UK. You can only book a repatriation flight if your journey originated from the UK.
Wherever possible, passengers will be flown home on the date that they were originally booked to return. You should not make your trip to the airport until notified to do so.
The last major repatriation operation was when Monarch airlines collapsed back in October 2017. This operation is significantly larger but is being overseen by the CAA. Planes from other airlines will be chartered to carry passengers.
What should I do if the hotel is asking me to pay them extra money so that I can stay?
There have been incidents of some hotels asking current holidaymakers to pay money to be able to remain in the hotel.
If you are experiencing difficulties or have been asked to pay extra money, then please call the CAA on +44 1753 330 330. Do not make any extra payment until you have spoken with a representative at the CAA.
Hotel companies are usually paid by the tour operators two to three months after visitors have already stayed at the hotel. This explains why some hotels are concerned about not receiving payment for those holidaymakers already staying.
Will I be covered if I only booked flights with Thomas Cook?
The UK Government said that although ATOL usually applies to package holiday customers, in this instance they will also pay for the flights home of any flight only customers. This applies even if they are not ATOL protected. However, if you are on a flight only booking and already abroad, this cover only applies until 6thOctober. After that date you would need to make your own arrangements.
What if I have a Thomas Cook Holiday booked in the next couple of weeks?
Unfortunately, your holiday will not be going ahead. You will receive your money back under the ATOL scheme but it may take a little time. The CAA is aiming to finalise the arrangements for refunds by 30thSeptember 2019.
If you visit the CAA website at caa.co.uk/ATOL-protection/ you can find more information on how to claim your money back.
Would I be better off making a refund claim through my travel insurance or credit card company?
It may be possible to claim through your travel insurance but check your policy first as you must have cover for Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) or supplier failure.
Unfortunately, most low-cost travel insurance providers do not cover for this eventuality. This is because ATOL is there to cover this issue of it arises.
If you paid for your holiday using your credit card then you may covered by Section 75 of The Consumer Credit Act. Check with your credit card company, though, as some only allow this if you have booked direct and not booked via an agent.
Will ATOL be able to afford to pay out to everyone who booked a holiday with Thomas Cook?
ATOL is run and managed by the CAA, so if it were overwhelmed by claims then the Government would be able to step in and assist. This will certainly be the largest ever payout by ATOL to customers of a travel firm which has closed.
Claiming Your Refund and Compensation
If you have booked your flight and hotel separately you are less likely to be protected by ATOL.
If you paid for your holiday via credit card you could try claiming back extra costs via section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
To claim back through this act the costs must be between £100 to £30,000
If you paid for your trip using a debit card or by credit card and the cost is under £100, then you might be able to claim under chargeback rules. Passengers must do this within 120 days to get their money back, but unlike Section 75, this is not a legal requirement.
How we can help..
Claim Experts specialises in consumer claims and has vast experience assisting clients make claims under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Complete the enquiry formto discover how we can help you get your money back.