What you need to know about the Thomas Cook collapse
Photo by Ugur Akdemir on Unsplash

The big travel news this weekend was the collapse of Thomas Cook, one of the world’s best-known travel operators. All future Thomas Cook Airlines flights and Thomas Cook travel bookings have been canceled. This is a huge deal, both for future and current travelers. So what do you need to know?

If you’re booked with Thomas Cook in the future

First of all, if you’re booked to travel with Thomas Cook (on Thomas Cook Airlines or on a packaged trip) in the future, your plans have likely been squashed. But if you booked a package, you can expect to at least get reimbursed. In this helpful Q&A, The Guardian notes that the U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is hoping to refund eligible travelers by September 30.

Meanwhile, if you had only flights with Thomas Cook Airlines, reimbursement is going to be a little trickier. Hopefully, you booked the affected flights with a credit card, as I strongly recommended after WOW went under. If you did, contact your credit card company immediately. And you can expect to see your money back.

If you didn’t book your flights with a credit card, your next-best hope is in your insurance policy. Per The Guardian your policy will need to include “cover for scheduled airline failure insurance (Safi) or supplier failure. If it does, you’re covered. But most cheap travel policies, including many that come as part of a packaged bank account, generally do not include this level of cover.” This is why I’m a big proponent of buying travel insurance from a reliable third-party, like the one I travel with. If you bought insurance through Thomas Cook (I’m not sure it the company sold it), it wouldn’t help you here.

If you didn’t buy travel insurance at all, you may be out of luck, but you never know. You can find more information on this official page.

If you’re booked with Thomas Cook and traveling right now

According to the BBC, an “estimated 150,000 Britons are affected by Thomas Cook’s collapse” and “the company has a further 350,000 to 450,000 customers abroad.” Customers that are currently abroad and staying in accommodations arranged by Thomas Cook are being urged “not to cut short their holiday or go to the airport without checking the website for more information about their return journey.” But what else?

Hotel stays booked as part of a Thomas Cook package should largely not be affected (these packages are protected by ATOL, a CAA program), but there are already reports of travelers finding hassle. Per The Guardian, “holidaymakers experiencing difficulties with their Atol-protected hotel – including if the hotel is requesting payment – should contact its call centre on +44 1753 330 330.”

The U.K. government has chartered 45 jets to fly stranded Thomas Cook travelers back to the U.K., “the biggest ever peacetime repatriation.” As The Guardian writes in its Q&A, these replacement flights will be on or near your planned travel date. New flight and travel info is being listed on thomascook.caa.co.uk. You can also call the CAA from non-U.K. countries at +44 1753 330 330. Importantly, replacement flights are only available through October 6. After that date, you’ll be on your own to get a replacement flight. In addition, the CAA is only chartering flights to the U.K. If you’re not living in or returning to the U.K., you’ll likely be able to get back to the U.K. and then on your own to get another flight home.

Is Condor still operating?

The German airline Condor, which operates as a subsidiary of Thomas Cook, is still flying, per this announcement. If you’re booked to fly with Condor as part of a Thomas Cook package, however, the above applies, and your trip has been canceled.

More info on the Thomas Cook collapse



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