It can sour a holiday when flights are delayed or cancelled, but when your entire holiday collapses as a travel company goes under, all the relaxation points you've racked up will evaporate in an instant.
It was a sad day for the travel industry when one of the oldest travel companies Thomas Cook collapsed on Monday, cancelling all flights and tours as of 23 September 2019, stranding thousands of tourists, mostly from the UK. The company also operates in South Africa, but only over the summer months from December to March.
SEE: UK travel giant Thomas Cook collapses, stranding thousands of tourists
As the UK government and what's left of Thomas Cook scramble to get tourists home from places like Croatia, Cuba, Egypt and the US, here's what you can do if you've booked with them. The airline began operating a seasonal flight between Cape Town and Gatwick in 2016 - with the season now ahead affected.
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If you've booked for travel on or after 7 October 2019
The key thing to know is whether or not your flight was protected by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) scheme Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL). Check your Thomas Cook booking for a certificate from ATOL to see if your booking falls under its protection.
- If your Thomas Cook flights are ATOL-protected by Thomas Cook or any company in the Thomas Cook Group your flights are now cancelled. You claim for a refund via the ATOL scheme.
- If your Thomas Cook flights are not ATOL protected, your flights are now cancelled and you are not entitled to claim via the ATOL scheme, but you may be able to claim from your travel insurer or your credit card issuer or bank.
- If, however, you booked an ATOL-protected holiday with Thomas Cook but your flights are with an airline unrelated to the Thomas Cook Group, your flights may still be available, but your accommodation and transfers may not be.
- If you've booke Thomas Cook flights or holidays through another travel company or agent, you need to contact them directly.
- Bookings for Thomas Cook hotels only are not covered by ATOL.
- If you have flights booked with another airline for a Thomas Cook holiday, then those flights will still be running but the transfers and accommodation are likely to be cancelled.
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If you're already on a Thomas Cook holiday
If you are already on holiday and you are booked on Thomas Cook for return flights to the UK, there will be CAA-operated flights between now and 6 October, which will try to be as close as possible to the original ticket.
- Check for guidance on each destination here.
- If you book your own flights during this time, you may not be able to be reimbursed for the flights unless under exceptional circumstances.
- If your accommodation is demanding payment, please call this number +44 1753 330 330. Do not make any payments unless instructed to by the CAA team.
- Thomas Cook-owned hotels will close and if you are staying in one you might have to be moved.
- For more information check here.
ALSO SEE: What to do when your flight gets cancelled
Compiled by Gabi Zietsman
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