7 min Read
05 Oct 2019

Written by Damien

Damien is one of the most widely quoted money and investment experts in the national press and has made numerous radio & TV appearances. He created MoneytotheMasses.com while working in the City when he became disillusioned with the way the public were left to fend for themselves because they could not afford financial advice.

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Thomas Cook goes into administration – what to do if you are affected

Thomas Cook going bust 

This article is regularly updated in order to provide the most up to date information for those that have been affected by Thomas Cook entering administration.

October 2019 Update:

As of 7th October 2019, customers that had booked to go away with Thomas Cook can claim a refund through a website set up by The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Only those that had ATOL protection in place can claim (click to jump to our ATOL protection section) and refunds should be paid within 60 days.

Check out our article 'How to get a refund from Thomas Cook for more information'.

What has happened?

Back in May 2019, Thomas Cook announced half-year losses of £1.5 billion and saw its share price fall 40 percent as a result. In July 2019, it was announced that Thomas Cook were undergoing rescue talks with investors and banks, which would have seen the Chinese investor FoSun, buying a £900m share. Unfortunately, FoSun's lenders, which included around 10 banks, demanded another £200million buffer which failed to materialize and after a last-ditch attempt to acquire a £250million bailout from the government failed, Thomas Cook went into administration.

There are currently around 150,000 British holidaymakers who will need help getting home and the government have stepped in to help in what has been described as the biggest peacetime repatriation of its kind. It has chartered 45 planes in order to bring Thomas Cook customers home, starting with 64 routes being flown on Monday 23rd September. The operation has been dubbed Operation Matterhorn.

Anyone affected should visit the Civil Aviation Authority's dedicated Thomas Cook website. Those due to return to the UK between 23rd and 26th September or who are experiencing problems with their accommodation or require special assistance can ring 0300 303 2800 from the UK or +44 1753 330 330 if calling from abroad.

What happens to my holiday now Thomas Cook has gone bust?

All flight-inclusive holidays offered by Thomas Cook are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. ATOL stands for Air Travel Organiser's Licence and the protection is designed to reassure consumers that their money is safe and should provide assistance in the event of a travel company going bust. When you pay for your holiday you should be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. You should check your certificate to ensure that everything you booked (flights, cruises, hotels and other services) is listed on it.

Not all flights sold by Thomas Cook are protected by the ATOL scheme. It is likely that if you have booked a flight only and have not received an ATOL certificate then your flight booking will not be ATOL protected.

Getting your money back is one thing but what if you still want to go on holiday, will you be offered a replacement holiday package?

Thomas Cook is one of the largest operators and so it is impossible to say right now what will happen to existing bookings now they have gone bust. ATOL protection should ensure that you do not suffer financially but you would need to contact the company directly to find out how it may affect you.

Thomas Cook went bust whilst I was on holiday - what now?

If you are on holiday when a travel company goes bust you should be protected if the holiday you booked is a package holiday. According to Which? the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations require organisers of package holidays to provide protection for your money and to bring you home if necessary.

Make sure that you keep all of your documentation safe, including your booking information, ATOL certificate and any relevant information such as travel insurance documents.

Anyone affected should visit the Civil Aviation Authority's dedicated Thomas Cook website. Those due to return to the UK between 23rd and 26th September or who are experiencing problems with their accommodation or require special assistance can ring 0300 303 2800 from the UK or +44 1753 330 330 if calling from abroad.

What about people who have booked flights only - are they covered by ATOL?

No, as explained above, it is unlikely that flights will be ATOL protected unless they were bought in Thomas Cook's own stores (although if you paid by credit card you may be protected under the Consumer Credit Act - see below). Travellers should make sure they get suitable travel insurance cover ASAP.

See our guide on 'How to save money on your travel insurance'.

What this unfortunate episode does highlight is the importance of booking travel insurance as soon as you book any flights or travel arrangements in order to ensure you get your money back in the event of your travel operator going bust.

What if you paid by credit card or debit card?

If you pay on credit cards (over £100 per person) then you should be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Read our article 'When it's best to pay by credit card'

Similarly with Visa or Mastercard debit card payments. The card issuers operate a voluntary (not legally binding) chargeback scheme, where they get your cash back from the retailer's bank if something goes wrong, regardless of the amount spent (minimum £10 on Mastercard).

What is the best way to take money abroad?

If all this talk about Thomas Cook going bust is making you nervous about your upcoming holiday, then you may want to read our article on the 'Best way to take money on holiday'.

We outline the best and cheapest way to withdraw cash abroad, as well as the best and cheapest way to pay by card without being charged.

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