Thomas Cook Cancellations - What About Safety?

 

It was confirmed at around 2am on 23 September 2019 that Thomas Cook was officially closed for business and that all flights and holidays booked by the group are cancelled. This is affecting around 150,000 Brits who are currently on holiday and up to a million who have bookings for future trips.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has stepped in to help get people back home, but even with airlines from BA to charter companies being approached to send aircraft to assist, the government has said repatriation could still take up to two weeks.

 

The CAA has issued advice to those affected – here are the key points:

  • If you’re booked on a Thomas Cook flight from a UK airport today or in the future, that flight is cancelled. Do not go to the airport.

This is extremely important from a safety point of view – even a small crowd gathering and/or waiting around at an airport makes suspicious activity harder to spot, and if something does happen it makes safety procedures a lot more difficult.

  • Repatriation flights are only available for passengers who started their journey in the UK.
  • If your flight is booked with another airline (i.e. not Thomas Cook) it will still be valid, but other elements of your booking may not be, e.g. accommodation and transfers arranged by Thomas Cook.

Make sure you have all the necessary details and confirm all arrangements with the service provider(s).

  • If you choose to book a flight out of the UK with another airline, you will not be eligible for a repatriation flight.

 

If you are currently travelling on a Thomas Cook holiday or with Thomas Cook flights, check the CAA’s website for arrangements and assistance: https://thomascook.caa.co.uk/

 

 

If you are already travelling on a Thomas Cook package holiday or are booked to return on a Thomas Cook Airlines flight:

You may have to return early, or you may need to remain abroad longer, depending on the repatriation flights and accommodation available. You must check with the CAA regarding flights and availability.

There have been reports of a hotel in Tunisia demanding up-front payments from travellers who had booked through Thomas Cook, and The Times says this may happen with others. There is currently no advice on how to handle the situation, but this is where cover for End Supplier Failure is so important (not provided by Safe Journey, but available through our sister site OneStop4:) It would assure you of reimbursement of those extra hotel payments.

 

If you have booked through Thomas Cook but have not yet departed

If you had booked a package deal with Thomas Cook, sorry but your holiday is cancelled. ATOL protection will ensure you get a refund though. The CAA have said today that they will only be managing refunds once the repatriation of people has been completed., and they expect it to take 2 months to process refunds.

If you had booked a Thomas Cook flight and booked accommodation independently, the flight is cancelled but your accommodation won’t be affected.

  • Book new flights
  • Or cancel the accommodation if you can
  • This is unlikely to be covered by ATOL so you’ll need to negotiate with providers, or claim for Scheduled Airline Failure / End Supplier Failure if you have that cover. All Onestop4: and International Travel and Healthcare policies include this cover.
  • If you paid by credit card an amount over £100 your payment is protected and you should claim now from your card provider.

 

If you had booked accommodation through Thomas Cook but booked a flight independently with another airline, those flights will still be operating.

  • You can look for other accommodation
  • Or cancel the flights
  • Once again, this is unlikely to be protected by ATOL so flight refunds or changes would be entirely up to the airline. End Supplier Failure cover would help here too.
  • If you paid by credit card an amount over £100 your payment is protected and you should claim now from your card provider.

 

Safety Concerns

The Times reports that a “refugee camp” type of situation may occur as travellers are kicked out of accommodation booked by Thomas Cook, or if they have to wait for repatriation flights.

  • We’re sure the CAA will arrange hotels wherever possible, but this can’t be guaranteed.
  • This accommodation may not have the same level of security as your previous accommodation.

As we mentioned earlier, crowds and chaos at airports are the biggest safety concern. If you don’t have a confirmed flight, don’t go to an airport. 

 

General Safety

  • Be extra vigilant at all times and report any unusual or suspicious activity.
  • Avoid large, disorganised crowds at hotels or airports.
  • Don’t go to the airport if you don’t have a confirmed flight booking. Waiting around at the airport is unlikely to get you home any sooner if flights aren’t available – it just creates more crowds and chaos at the airport.
  • Keep bags, luggage, etc. close to hand at all times. This is one of those chaotic situations that pick-pockets and others may try to take advantage of.
  • Don’t hand over your passport or other documents to helpful strangers.
  • If a situation starts to get out of hand at an airport or anywhere else, leave the area – don’t wait around to take photos or videos!

 

 

 

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