TENS of thousands of Thomas Cook customers may wrongly think their holidays have been axed, travel companies warn.
When the tour operator spectacularly imploded on Monday holidaymakers were told all future bookings had been cancelled.
But much of Thomas Cook’s high street business was as a travel agent — booking holidays with other tour operators.
And those will be honoured.
The problem is these holiday companies don’t have enough information to contact their customers.
Most have only scant details that were passed on to them, such as passenger names as they appear on their passports.
This means the firms have no way of contacting holidaymakers to tell them their trips are still on.
Customers on the other hand may not know which specific holiday company to contact since the information is with the collapsed Thomas Cook.
HOLIDAYMAKERS MAY BE OBLIVIOUS
Calls were growing in the travel industry for Thomas Cook’s liquidator to give operators full details of the people booked with them.
But this may be hampered by data protection laws.
Sean Tipton, of the Association of British Travel Agents, told the Times: “What we really don’t want is a situation where people think their holiday is cancelled and start booking a replacement.
“When they then come to put in their Air Travel Organiser’s Licence [Atol] claim for the first holiday they’ll be told it’s not eligible because it wasn’t operated by Thomas Cook.
“By then it will likely be too late: they’ll either have missed the departure or have two holidays and normal cancellation terms will apply.”
ATOL and ABTA helplines
- For ATOL-protected holidays: If you are abroad and having difficulties contact Atol on +44 (0) 333 103 6350.
- ABTA number (for customers currently on holiday with a non-flight package or accommodation only): 0330 135 9870
There are understood to be tens of thousands of such bookings.
They are not part of 800,000 Thomas Cook run holidays that have been cancelled.
A further 16,700 customers of collapsed British travel firm Thomas Cook are scheduled to be repatriated today on 76 flights, the country’s aviation regulator said.
The Civil Aviation Authority said it has so far brought back more than half of the total number of affected customers since it launched the country’s largest peacetime repatriation on Monday.
Fears are growing that holiday prices will shoot up next summer following the traumatic period for the industry.
Around 25,000 tourists were due to fly to Majorca alone with the travel giant this month.
Avoiding a future travel nightmare
PACKAGE deals are covered if they are booked with members of the Atol or Abta schemes.
Atol’s guarantee covers flight-based trips and Abta covers rail, cruise and self-drive ones.
Pay by credit card as it will offer stronger protection if something goes wrong with your booking, due to section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
Debit cards offer some protection under little-known bank “chargeback” schemes, but this is at the discretion of the provider rather than a legal obligation.
Not all travel insurance policies include airline or operator failure so it might be worth paying more for this if your holiday is not protected in the ways described above.
If you are planning to marry abroad, consider taking out specialist wedding insurance to protect yourself against the cost of having to reschedule.
About one million people will be affected by the cancellation of all future Thomas Cook bookings, including Martin Nowell and his partner Pixie Flageul, who were due to go on their first holiday together to Egypt.
Speaking at Gatwick Airport, Mr Nowell, a self-employed bricklayer from London, said it was “disappointing” that they could not go on their £1,400 holiday.
The 53-year-old added: “We are devastated. We feel for the people who have lost their jobs. It’s a tough old world out there.”
Lisa Godbeer and her family were due to fly out to Mexico for a trip of a lifetime to celebrate her 40th birthday and had paid more than £6,000 for the 10-day holiday to Cancun for her and her husband, her daughter and a friend.
Ms Godbeer, from Somerset, was at Gatwick Airport. She said: “I’m really angry and a bit shocked really.
“We has a joke yesterday saying imagine we get there and it (Thomas Cook) had shut down.
“If it was a couple of hundred quid I wouldn’t care but it’s a bloody lot of money.”
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