Advice and guidance following the recent Thomas Cook announcement
25 September 2019
Care First, UCL's employee assistance partner, has compiled the following support and guidance for anyone affected by the recent announcement that Thomas Cook has entered administration. Trained advisers are also available to take your call.
You may recently have been made aware that Thomas Cook has entered administration, with those scheduled to depart on flights/holidays with Thomas Cook, and those currently away on holidays, affected. Answers to frequently asked questions are detailed below, together with links to further online support. You can also speak directly to one of Care First's trained Telephone Information Specialists on 0800 174 319. The team is available Monday – Friday, between 8am and 8pm.
Will I lose my holiday booking?
Anyone who has bought a package holiday will be covered by the Air Travel Organiser's Licence scheme (ATOL).
This means if you have booked a holiday but have yet to depart, your holiday will no longer be going ahead, but the cost of the holiday will be refunded.
There is a special website set up to explain how to make a claim. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be launching a service to manage all refunds on Monday, 30 September, with details published in the coming days. It has asked people not to submit anything to the CAA before then.
The CAA have confirmed that all refunds should be processed within two months of a claim form being submitted properly.
The majority of Thomas Cook holidays are package holidays.
Does the refund cover everything?
Everything that was paid for as part of the package - such as flights, accommodation, and excursions - will be refunded.
Some holidaymakers might have paid separately for airport parking or car hire while away. In this situation, they would need to make a claim from their travel insurer for the cost.
In more extreme cases, such as a wedding, there may be a host of other things that could be affected. Specialist cover, such as wedding insurance, may be the only route for those left out of pocket.
Could I switch to another holiday?
No. Holidaymakers with package deals get a refund, as that is what the ATOL protection stipulates. Booking a new holiday in the very near future with another provider has likely gotten more expensive as a result of Thomas Cook entering administration.
Only part of my holiday is with Thomas Cook, what do I do?
Some other operators which used Thomas Cook flights will try to switch their customers to an alternative at no extra cost.
Others may be on cruises organised and paid through Thomas Cook. It is best to contact those operators directly as they will be prepared to explain the status of the holiday.
I have only booked a flight with Thomas Cook. What are my rights?
The ATOL protection covers packages, but not flight-only deals. This means you would not get an automatic refund.
You may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance if you have it.
The other alternative is claiming a refund from the provider of the credit or debit card you used, under so-called section 75 rules.
There may be a little more protection if the hotel you booked was linked to the flight, such as a click-through when booking the flight.
Anyone who bought a Thomas Cook package that did not include a flight may be covered under the separate ABTA scheme.
Tell your credit card company that you want to make a claim under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This is called a ‘section 75 claim’. Make your claim to the company which sends your statements - for example, if you have an HSBC Mastercard, make your claim to HSBC not Mastercard.
I'm on holiday now, what do I do?
At the moment, enjoy your break as much as you can - do not cut it short. That said, the repatriation operation will only run up to and including Sunday 6 October. After that, travellers would have to make their own plans, although those covered by ATOL will be refunded.
Hoteliers will be paid via the ATOL scheme, so they should not ask for any extra payment.
UK package holiday customers will be brought home "as close as possible" to their booked return date, the Department for Transport (DfT) has said. They must take their original ticket information with them and will be issued with a fresh boarding pass for their flight.
Customers will be on special free flights or booked on to another scheduled airline at no extra cost, with details of each flight to be posted on a dedicated CAA website as soon as they are available, up to 72 hours before its scheduled departure.
The CAA said some people might be flown to different UK airports from the ones originally scheduled, but free transfers would be provided.
The DfT added that a "small number" of passengers might need to book their own flight home and reclaim the costs.
We would advise checking out the dedicated CAA website pages.
Section 75 payments
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the credit card company is jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the retailer or trader.
This means it is just as responsible as the retailer or trader for the goods or service supplied, allowing you to also put your claim to the credit card company.
You don't have to reach a stalemate with the retailer or trader before you can contact your credit card provider - you can make a claim to both the retailer and credit card provider simultaneously, although you can't recover your losses from both.
This right is particularly useful if the retailer or trader has gone bust, or it doesn't respond to your letters or phone calls.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act also applies to foreign transactions as well as goods bought online, by telephone or mail order for delivery to the UK from overseas. It covers amounts paid from £100 to £30,000 only.
Thomas Cook gift cards
Those with Thomas Cook gift cards will have to register as a creditor in a bid to try and claim some money back from Thomas Cook. You will need to be aware there will be a large number of creditors so it may take time and you may not get all the purchase price of the cards back.
Further advice is available from the following organisations
Abta website: https://www.abta.com/news/thomas-cook-group
CAA website: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/
Citizens Advice website: ‘If a company stops trading or goes out of business’
Gov.uk website: News story ‘Thomas Cook: information for customers, employees, creditors and shareholders.’
Money savings expert: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2019/09/thomas-cook-seeking-p200m-extra-funding-/