COMMENTS

Travel giant Thomas Cook goes into liquidation leaving families stranded abroad and upset over booked holidays

Thomas Cook has collapsed and all flights and holidays booked through the firm have been cancelled.

Thousands of families are stranded abroad and over a million other customers may have lost future bookings.

People flying today have been advised not to travel to airports.

The 178-year-old company ceased trading today (Tuesday) after entering compulsory liquidation due to mounting debts.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has pledged to bring over 150,000 British holidaymakers stuck abroad, home, the county’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation.

Thomas Cook’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser described the collapse as a “matter of profound regret”.

“I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years,” he said.

“This marks a deeply sad day for the company which pioneered package holidays and made travel possible for millions of people around the world.”

Thomas Cook statement

Thomas Cook statement

So if you are abroad now or have booked a Thomas Cook flight or holiday what do you do?

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “In general those abroad now will be brought home once their holidays have finished.

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“Most who haven’t travelled will have a route to get their cash back, but this unprecedentedly large repatriation and refund operation will not be without problems.

“It’s going to be a stressful time for many people.

“The Government has said all British travellers who were due to fly back within the next two weeks will be brought home free of charge. Those who’ve already paid for their hotels abroad as part of a Thomas Cook package shouldn’t pay again. Yet that won’t stop a few uncertain and scared hotelliers overseas wanting money directly from British travellers to be doubly sure. This could leave UK tourists in sticky situations. If so, the Civil Aviation Authority has a helpline which should sort it for you.

“For those who’d booked future trips, ATOL and ABTA schemes should mean full refunds, but some, especially those who booked flights only, may be unprotected. Travel insurance won’t help for most, as travel company failure cover is rarely included as standard – though check your policy or give them a call.

“If you did book without travel industry or insurance protection, the next route is your card provider. Those who paid more than £100 on a credit card get Section 75 legal protection – which means the card firm is jointly liable with the retailer, so you can get your money back from it. However this may not work if you booked via an agency, or via certain Paypal transactions, as that break in the direct transactional relationship can stop it working – we wait to see how widespread that problem will be.

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“If that happens, or you paid by debit card, instead ask your bank to do a ‘chargeback’. This isn’t a legal protection – it is a Visa, Mastercard and Amex rule where your bank gets your money back from Thomas Cook’s bank as you didn’t receive what you paid for. It should work for most people. Those who paid by other methods such as cheques or cash have very little protection sadly.”

For updated advice, go to his website here.

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