/ Travel & Leisure

Thomas Cook collapse: your questions answered

Last-minute negotiations to save Thomas Cook have ended in failure. Are you affected?

09/12/2019: Update

Thomas Cook customers who have made a claim through the CAA refund service should start getting their money back from this week. However, some have been told their claim will be delayed longer than the 60 day deadline while more information is gathered.

We’re keeping an eye on the situation and will update this post when we learn more.

Have you been refunded yet? Or have you had issues with your claim? Let us know in the comments below.

09/10/2019: Update

The CAA’s dedicated refunds service is now open.

We’ve also discussed what happens next in the Which? Money podcast:

23/09/2019: Thomas Cook ceases trading

The news that Thomas Cook has ceased trading with immediate effect has left hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers incredibly worried.

Your Thomas Cook questions

Our guide to what happens when a travel company goes bust answers a number of queries for the scenario of a travel company going bust, but we want to make sure your specific questions on Thomas Cook are addressed.

Here are some of the most common we’ve had so far, and our advice:

How do I know if I have Atol protection?

Thomas Cook package holidays that include flights are Atol protected. Flights booked directly with Thomas Cook Tour Operations are also Atol protected, but flights booked directly with Thomas Cook Airlines aren’t.

To be sure, check your booking confirmation details. You’ll have received an Atol certificate if you’re protected, usually on the last page of your booking documents.

Holidays sold in the EU are protected if the travel organiser goes bust, provided the holiday combines at least two of the following elements of travel: transport, accommodation, car rental or excursions/guided tours/museum visits. In the UK that protection is provided by the Atol scheme.

If you’re unsure, the best way to check is to look for an ATOL certificate, which you should have received at the time of booking. For more see Atol protection explained.

I’m currently on a Thomas Cook holiday, what do I do now?

If you’re due to return home before 6 October, you’ll be flown home for free, as close as possible to your original return date.

Even if you don’t have Atol protection, or you’re not a British citizen, the CAA has a duty to get you back to the UK.

The Government and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) have arranged charter flights to get travellers home. You can visit their website to find out more information and check the latest flight details.

The CAA also has a 24-hour helpline if you have questions or need extra help: +44 1753 330 330.

If you’re due to return home after 6 October, you’ll have to arrange your own travel. The cost of your flight will be reimbursed if you have Atol protection.

I haven’t heard anything back about replacement flights home, can I go ahead and rebook?

Firstly, you shouldn’t need to cut your holiday short. The Government and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) have arranged charter flights to get travellers home It has set up a website where you can find out more information and check flight details.

If you’re unable to arrange replacement flights in time for you to travel, then you can go ahead and arrange your own travel. As long as you keep your receipts, you should be reimbursed if they’re a reasonable cost and similar to the original booking.

For example, if your original booking was for an economy fare, you won’t be reimbursed if you book a first class seat as a replacement.

The hotel I’m staying in is asking me to pay more money. What should I do?

You don’t need to pay your hotel extra money if you’re Atol protected, and you shouldn’t need to leave your hotel before you had planned to either.

You can contact the CAA for advice with this on +44 1753 330 330 if you need to. They should be able to settle the situation or transfer you to alternative accommodation if you’re having problems.

Importantly keep receipts if you are forced to pay out extra as you may be able to claim these costs back at a later date.

If you’re not on a package holiday, it’s unlikely you’ll have Atol protection. However, if your accommodation is demanding money, you can contact the British consulate for advice.

I need a repatriation flight home, but have special travel requirements because of a disability or medical condition. How can I arrange this?

Contact the consulate to ask for the travel arrangements you need.

I’m due to go on a Thomas Cook package holiday very soon. What does this mean for me?

Sadly, your holiday is now cancelled but, if it’s Atol protected, you will be refunded in full. Find out more about claiming a refund from the dedicated CAA website.

For package holidays without a flight, you’ll still be protected, but this time it’ll be under the ABTA scheme. You’ll be able to get a refund for the package holiday portion of your trip.

Can I still go ahead with my holiday? 

There are steps you can take if you still want to go on holiday, but it can get complicated and could cost you more – think very carefully whether you’ll be better off waiting for a refund and making different plans.

The first step you should take is to contact your airline and hotel to find out if your places are still booked, and if they have been paid for or not.

(a) If every thing has been paid for your holiday can still go ahead.

(b) If only element had been paid for you will have to pay for your hotel or flights or make alternative arrangements. If you have Atol protection you can claim back the cost of your hotel or flight  as long as it doesn’t exceed the total original cost of your holiday.

For example if your holiday cost £1,000 and the hotel costs £800, you can claim that full cost back. But if the hotel now costs £1,200 you can claim back the full £1,000 but you will have to find the extra £200 yourself.

Additionally if anything goes wrong with your new booking you will not have Atol protection.

(c) Nothing has been paid for than the same advice as above applies, it will probably be extremely difficult to find alternative arrangements that will not cost substantially more.

What if my booking is not Atol protected? Can I get my money back?

If future flights or a booking are not Atol protected, you won’t be able to claim for a refund through the CAA. But if you paid with a credit or debit card contact your bank or card provider, they might be able to help.

If you paid for all or part of your booking using a credit card, and the cost was over £100, you can contact your bank and make a claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

If you paid for your booking with a debit card, you can contact your bank and ask them about their chargeback procedure, which could get you a refund.

You could also check whether your travel insurance covers you if your travel company goes into administration. You may be able to make a claim with them, but you might have to pay excess.

I’ve booked a Thomas Cook package holiday that I’ve paid for in full. How long will it take for my money to be refunded?

The CAA initially said it will launch a dedicated refunds service for Thomas Cook customers by 30 September, has now moved to 7 October because ‘we do not yet have all of the information we need from Thomas Cook’. It says it will aim to process refunds within 60 days of receiving a claim. We’ll let you know more on how to claim a refund when the details are released.

The CAA has said ‘that for refunds for holidays paid for by methods other than direct debit it will ‘launch a new, simplified online system next Monday, 7 October, where consumers will be able to access an electronic refund form. We hope to pay refunds within 60 days of receiving a valid refund form. More information will be available on our website (thomascook.caa.co.uk) from 7 October.’

If you paid for your holiday using direct debit you should be refunded automatically by mid-October.

If you do have any questions on how the refund system will work and what you need to do pop them in the comments and we can ask the CAA. 

I booked my holiday through an agent, but only my flights were with Thomas Cook. What am I entitled to?

If you booked your flights and accommodation at the same time, through the same travel agent or travel agent website, you’ll be Atol protected. The agent should arrange alternative flights for you or offer a refund.

If you booked flights and accommodation separately, your flight won’t be protected. But if you paid for your flights with a credit or debit card you can contact your card provider and ask to claim the money back.

I’ve booked a Thomas Cook holiday through a travel agent, but the flights are with a different airline. What does this mean for me?

If you booked all the parts of your trip at the same time through the same travel agent (flights and accommodation) then your holiday will be Atol protected.

Any part of your trip provided by Thomas Cook will be cancelled, but your flights will be unaffected. If your agent is unable to make alternative arrangements, your Atol protection entitles you to a full refund of your booking.

If you booked your flights separately, unfortunately your flights won’t be covered by Atol protection.

I’ve booked a Thomas Cook holiday, but booked flights separately with another airline.

Your holiday will be ABTA protected, and you’ll be entitled to a full refund of the holiday portion of your trip. Your flight booking will be unaffected so you’ll need to look at booking an alternative holiday package if you still want to go, otherwise cancel your flights.

I’m in the middle of paying installments for a future holiday. What should I do now and can I get my money back?

The payments you’ve made so far are protected under the Atol protection scheme and you’ll be able to get your money back. 

All direct debit payments to Thomas Cook due on or after Wednesday 25 September will now automatically be cancelled, but it’s worth checking with your bank to make sure. If you have a payment due on Tuesday 24 August, you should contact your bank to cancel it as soon as possible.

On Monday 30 September the CAA released a statement saying that ‘for around 100,000 bookings made by direct debit we hope to refund these within the next 14 days.’

How do I get my refund if I’m Atol protected?

If you booked direct with Thomas Cook, you’ll need to apply to the CAA for a refund.

The CAA initially said it will launch a dedicated refunds service for Thomas Cook customers by 30 September, has now moved to 7 October because ‘we do not yet have all of the information we need from Thomas Cook’. It says it will aim to process refunds within 60 days of receiving a claim. We’ll let you know more on how to claim a refund when the details are released.

The CAA has said ‘that for refunds for holidays paid for by methods other than direct debit it will ‘launch a new, simplified online system next Monday, 7 October, where consumers will be able to access an electronic refund form. We hope to pay refunds within 60 days of receiving a valid refund form. More information will be available on our website (thomascook.caa.co.uk) from 7 October.’

If you paid for your holiday using direct debit you should be refunded automatically by mid-October.

If you do have any questions on how the refund system will work and what you need to do pop them in the comments and we can ask the CAA.

If you booked your holiday package through another travel agent, you can ask the agent directly for a refund.

Will anyone contact me about my refund? 

No, you’ll need to make your claim yourself. We’ve heard that scammers are targeting those affected, claiming to be from their bank or a ‘Thomas Cook refund agent.’ Don’t give any details to anyone who calls you claiming to be from Thomas Cook – just hang up.

If the caller says they’re from your bank and you’re unsure, you can always call your bank back using the contact details listed on their website.

I’ve got a Thomas Cook gift voucher, can I still use it or get the money back?

Getting your money back may be possible, but is not guaranteed.  If you have unredeemed gift cards you will need to register as a creditor and complete a Proof of Debt form.  

We have also heard that some have been able to claim the money spent on Thomas Cook gift vouchers back from their credit or debit card provider (if this is how the gift voucher was purchased).  However, this is at the discretion of the card provider and is not guaranteed.

If you’ve already used a gift voucher to pay for a future holiday you’ll be entitled to a cash refund from the CAA, as long as the holiday you paid for is Atol protected.

Can I be reimbursed for costs caused by rescheduled flights or cancelled holidays? For example, airport car parking, airport lounge bookings, visas, connecting travel costs and currency?

Your best bet in the first instance is to contact the service providers in each case, explain the situation and ask if they can reschedule or refund. Alternatively, you can check to see if you’re covered by travel insurance.

I’ve currently got a flight delay/cancellation or holiday claim with Thomas Cook. Will I get my money back?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do but wait to hear back. Thomas Cook now owes a lot of creditors a lot of money, and your claim will be a low priority. 

Can I make a claim on my travel insurance?

Unfortunately, a lot of travel insurance options don’t offer much protection in this instance, unless you’ve opted for specific failure cover – and even then, it will only be useful if you’re not covered by ATOL, ABTA or similar.

I have travel insurance with Thomas Cook. Is it still valid?

Yes. Thomas Cook travel insurance is provided by White Horse Insurance DAC, based in Ireland, and is still trading. If you have questions or need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you can contact White Horse Insurance directly at customerservice@whitehorse.ie or call +44 1733 224 852.

I have a Thomas Cook Cash Passport. Can I still use it?

Yes. The service is run by a separate company called Wirecard, who is a Mastercard partner, and MasterCard told us that these prepaid cards are unaffected and you can still spend your remaining balance.

Can I still cash in Thomas Cook travellers cheques?

Yes. Travelex says it will continue to cash in Thomas Cook travellers cheques at any of its retail bureaus in the UK, or via post.

I can’t find my Atol certificate, what can I do? 

If you booked a package holiday then you should have been issued with an Atol certificate. Now is the time to dig out any paperwork you received when you booked your holiday, for example confirmation emails or any paperwork you were given in store.

Some customers may not have received their Atol certificate, it may only be mentioned briefly in your confirmation details under ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘other travel details’, or for others the certificate will only have been accessible using your Thomas Cook customer account – which is no longer available.

Not having a copy of you Atol certificate will not stop you from claiming a refund as long as you have the name of the lead passenger and the dates you were due to fly, but it might slow the process down a little.

We’ll continue to update this advice regularly, as soon as we get new information. If you have more questions, please feel free to ask below.

Have you been affected by the Thomas Cook collapse?

Yes - I've booked a future package holiday with them (35%, 463 Votes)

No - I'm not affected by this (31%, 401 Votes)

Yes - I've booked a future flight with them (26%, 341 Votes)

Yes - I'm currently on a Thomas Cook package holiday (4%, 51 Votes)

Yes - I'm currently on holiday and have flown with Thomas Cook (4%, 50 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,306

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7 October 2019

I took out an annual travel insurance policy when we booked our holiday with TC (commencing from 12.9.2019). I’m assuming this policy will still be in force until it’s expiry date and cover provided by the insurance company White Horse Insurance, Ireland but do I need to contact them in any way or provide them with any other detail? I’m hoping I never need to claim but wouldn’t like to travel at a later date and find I’m without cover, especially medical, should a problem arise.

Your travel insurance won’t be affected.

If you have questions or need to make a claim on your travel insurance, you can contact White Horse Insurance directly at customerservice@whitehorse.ie or call +44 1733 224 852.

7 October 2019

Thank you for your prompt reply Abby and claryfying that the policy hasn’t been affected.

I only have a 3/4 of a receipt for my holiday but paid it in full well before I was due to leave. I paid for some of the holiday in cash and haven’t got any receipts for the cash transfer.I have my atol certifcate but will I lose out on my money because I dont have all the receipts even being atol protected?

We are being informed that Atol will have all the details. It might take a little longer to process your refund without a receipt but with your certificate it should go through relatively easily.

Thank you abby. I am worried I wont get my money back.

Chris T says:
7 October 2019

Re; Arbitration Award – I won an arbitration award from Thomas Cook which was due shortly before they went into administration. The award is legally binding and so i wondered if/how i would receive the payment, or whether i would have to register as a creditor, does anyone know?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Chris T says:
8 October 2019

Thanks Duncan – will look into that now

Chris – It would be interesting to learn how your binding arbitration award is treated by the administrators. It might [possibly] make you a secured or preferential creditor rather than an unsecured one.

I expect the administration process for Thomas Cook will take a long time and have a high administrative cost as claims come in from all over the world. There will probably be a very large number of unsecured creditors so the money available to meet claims might be negligible, and with the company having such a massive overhang of debt relative to its turnover even the secured and preferential creditors might be unsatisfied.

Reading about section 75 credit card rules ,it seems to say that you can apply to get payment for the full cost of the goods when a company collapses , ie a Thomas cook holiday, and not just the amount of deposit that I have paid .
Can anyone confirm if ATOL are only paying back my deposit can I then claim the rest of the holiday cost from the credit card company

Hi Judith, If you paid for the whole of your holiday you will get it all back from Atol, not just the deposit. Your credit card company will expect you to go through the Atol scheme and only do a section 75 if you are not Atol protected.

Hi, I booked TC flight only to Orlando next year. My credit card company are refunding me the cost of the flights. Can I also claim consequential expenses for the price difference between my original TC flights and the new ones that I’m going to have to book at a much higher cost?

We are afraid you can’t claim for that. We are looking at price increases. Would you be able to share some more information about fair increases?

kimberley says:
9 October 2019

It is so sad what has happened to Thomas Cook

The purchase of the Thomas Cook shops by Hays Travel will at least save the jobs of many of the employees: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49985369

There will probably have to be some sort of rationalisation of outlets but Hays Travel appears to be a company that will treat its staff as well as practicallly possible. Even if a number of Hays or ex-TC branches have to close due to duplication in some towns I would hope this could be achieved within the natural staff turnover and retirement rates.

Although much has been made of the trend for people to book holidays on-line, a lot of people felt reassured having a travel agent do it for them face-to-face so I think internet booking will reach a plateau and stay there. Although we have booked holidays on-line there is always a nagging doubt about the possibility of having made an error or omitted something important.

So far as I know no arrangements have been made to take over TC’s airline services and crews or re-employ the resort-based staff. The flight attendants are good quality and highly capable front-line customer service personnel so I hope they get offers from other companies and travel operators. Many companies in the leisure, travel and hospitality trades could do with such people.

Steven Fellows says:
10 October 2019

My auntie & uncle are both pensioners and have Medical insurance for a cancelled Thomas cook holiday which they never travelled, They made the claim to Atol but it’s saying it doesn’t include travel insurance who do they claim this back from ? Are they entitled to a refund from the insurance company itself ?

If it was not a part of their package it will indeed not be covered by Atol. If they contact the insurance company and explain the situation they might get a refund as a good will gesture. It would be interesting to hear if it was bought at the same time as the package.

We bought flights through Thomas Cook Airlines LTD online, using credit card. Flights operated by TC, SAS and Condor. This is not ATOL protected as per information in the paperwork fro Thomas Cook. Flights with SAS are stil visible in their systems but they say they cant tell me if they are still valid. Mastercard says we can get the money back for the TC flight but need to know what that specific flight costed and that we dont know because we only have the full amount. Are all flights “gone”? How do a claim a cost I am not sure of??

BTW we do not live in or are UK citizens – we are Swedish and residing in sweden

Hi Åsa,

This is a bit of a complicated one. Where are you flying from and to? Some parts of Thomas Cook were saved from the collapse, including the Scandinavian part of the company. Are your flights definitely affected?

We bought everything from the LTD part (UK based) of the company and paid the trip to them. Their specification below: Thomas Cook Airlines Limited Registered Office: Westpoint, Peterborough Business Park, Lynch
Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6FZ Registered in England No. 02012379.

Hi Asa, I am so sorry – I have just realised I didn’t reply to you. As you booked through Thomas Cook based in the UK you will be able to claim all the flights through your credit card as it sounds like your flights were not confirmed. Have you explained to Mastercard that all the flights were booked through TC?

Abby – The Thomas Cook collapse put a great strain on Which? and you all handled it very well. It is not surprising if some questions were not answered, but since six weeks have now passed since the initial enquiry could I suggest you e-mail Åsa [if possible] with your response since it is critical to getting a credit card refund and as a Swedish resident Åsa might not be a continuing visitor to Which? Conversation.

I have to say I, also, was impressed with the W? response.

Hi we have booked flights with Thomas Cook to Cuba on the 27th December for a week, but booked the Hotel with a different company. What can we do ? it is our honeymoon.

How did you pay for your flights? You will need to claim back from your card provider and rebook your flights. (Congrats on your upcoming nuptials!)

Becky says:
11 October 2019

If your hotel was a part owned with thomas cook what happens to the hotel now

Hi Becky – could you give us some more information?

Hi. We made a complaint to Thomas Cook after we returned home prior to the collapse of the company. We was moved hotel on arrival at the airport due to over booking (it would seem this wasn’t correct but due to the hotel not wanting TC guests) not to an all inclusive we paid for but to half board.

My question is we were still awaiting for a response when the collapse happened what is the likely hood of getting a response and indeed any compensation?

hi we had a Thomas cook flight delay on the 11th 09th 2019 I rang the customer services and they offered me £751 cash back we got an email from Thomas cook saying they would put a backs payment into my account In 28 days then a week to two weeks later they whent bust can I get the £751 they offered me as backs payment or have I lost this

I would like to know has refunds for future holidays booked with Thomas Cook started to be paid. We had running daily updates for those being returned but so far any of those who have filled out the claim form are in limbo.

From what we know, claims to the CAA for future holidays should be paid within 60 days of the date the claim was made, so the date you’d receive your compensation will vary. We do understand that some have been paid already.

Are you awaiting your claim to be refunded still?

Hi everyone,I went on holiday in February and it was a disaster from wrong room,flooded room which caused an accident ( having to get a Doctor and pay )beachs covered in seaweed everyday,toilets by restaurant not working,first room above loading bay so very noisy at night,2nd room they decided to build a new roof over a walkway so our last four days sthil saw cutting concrete,hammer drill on the concrete,chainsaw on the wood and loads of hammering,and to finish it two weeks of diareaa.I had a compensation claim going through at Thomas Cook which had been escalated but then they went into liquidation. ———– Any ideas

That sounds like a holiday to remember, Steve. 🙁

If you paid by credit card you could make a ‘Section 75’ claim against the card company: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act

Just a quick question. Our holiday was booked through an agent – the flights were with Thomas Cook – we only paid a deposit. TC collapsed; we wrote to the travel agent to cancel all the holiday so we could make different plans later. They never contacted us to advise what was going (they said they would) – they then booked alternative flights – are we liable to pay for these still, even though we requested a cancelation?

This will probably depend on what the travel agent’s terms and conditions say in relation to cancellation rights, deposits and the extent to which any elements are non-refundable in the event of cancellation.

You entered into a contract with the agent to arrange a holiday for you. The first airline they chose has failed so they are rebooking with another with all other arrangements [resort, hotel, accommodation and prices, days there and back, destination and arrival airports, etc] remaining essentially unchanged. The agent should have contacted you in response to your request to cancel but I cannot believe you will be able to obtain a complete refund; at best you might just lose your deposit if you confirm the cancellation.

Thelma Beddowes says:
28 October 2019

I have submitted a claim form to the CAA, should i receive an Email confirming its been received as as yet i have not received one Claim sent two weeks ago

Hi Thelma, If you are concerned I would recommend you get in touch with the CAA. We know that the system struggled at the start with so many claims so emails may have not gone out.

Peter Hensey says:
4 November 2019

I booked a cruise ,holiday ,travelling Sept 2020 with Hays travel included return Thomas cook flights to Orlando airport but every time I go to travel agents all I get is your flights are booked on to ghost flight ,I.e no airline has any available flights .
I need to book kennels , pet sitter ,make arrangements for this holiday but cannot do this as Hays travel refuse to give any confirmation ,yet I am disabled and need to book U pperclass seat again the response with Hays travel is you are on a ghost flight ,
How come with companies now booking for 2021 now ,yet 2020 holidays have not been sorted out yet ..
The house sitters and kennels are already nearly all booked up but Hays travel do not seem bothered

Hi Peter,

Sorry, your comment passed us by. Did you have any joy in rebooking the flights in the end?

Hiya I was just wondering if you could help me. I booked a holiday for March next year and I still haven’t heard anything.

Hi Nicola,

You will need to make a refund claim. I would recommend you do this as soon as possible. Here is the link for refunds. Do let us know if you have any problems with the refund and we will try our best to help.


This comment was removed at the request of the user

I was pleased to see in Norwich city centre today that two Thomas Cook shops were up and running again under their new owners, Hays Travel. That company has announced that it intends to recruit another 2,000 staff in order to expand its package holiday business further. Easyjet has also announced that it is going to enter the package holiday business again to fill some of the gaps left by the Thomas Cook collapse.

This appears to confirm that the basic model of the package holiday market is good and sustainable. Various extraneous factors and business decisions impacted adversely on Thomas Cook so we must hope the new operations are better managed and controlled.

Overall, the repatriation and refund programme executed by the CAA and the acquisition of the sales business and shops by Hays Travel have been textbook examples of recovery and restoration. Unfortunately the TC airline remains laid-up, but if the market stabilises and the capacity is required to meet new or replacement holiday bookings abroad then confidence will return and the planes will fly again under new branding. There is a residual concern that Brexit and the implications for the pound could impede the recovery but that risk was there anyway.

Where people have future holidays that were booked through Thomas Cook I would suggest that they should visit a Hays Travel shop and see if a satisfactory replacement holiday can be bought with their refund at a fair price. Because Hays Travel have taken on many of the ex-TC staff they have invested in the underlying intelligence of the destinations, resorts, hotels, etc and, given that many overseas hotel owners are now desperate to rebuild their UK customer base, the prospects for a good foreign holiday next year could be quite favourable.

Oh dear . . . If only we could have seen what was coming next!!