Thomas Cook

by Chris Wouldhave

Most of the country has now heard about the demise of Thomas Cook, one of the largest and oldest travel companies in the UK. This is the third time this has happened now, following the collapse of XL and Monarch. But where does it leave the customers and are prices now going to increase as there are fewer holidays to go around? Firstly, any traveller who booked a package with Thomas Cook is entitled to a refund or replacement holiday thanks to ATOL protection. If a traveller has booked a flight only with Thomas Cook, then normally you don’t get the same protection as you do with a package holiday. However, not all is lost as you could still claim back through travel insurance (check for the phrase ‘Scheduled Airline Failure’ to see if you are covered) or if you paid with a credit card and your flight cost between £100 and £30,000 then you should contact your card provider about a refund. With Thomas Cook operating over 40 aircraft, this does mean that capacity has been significantly reduced. Indeed, the morning after the news was announced flights shot up in price with examples of Newcastle to Lanzarote for Christmas and New Year showing up at over £750 per person (nearly double what customer originally paid). Things are starting to settle down a little bit now with those flights now showing at around £450-£600 per person. Rival companies are now stepping into the breach with Jet2 offering an additional 170,000 seats between October and March (20,000 to the Canary Islands alone). TUI has also reacted by starting to negotiate contracts with Greek hoteliers (where Thomas Cook was a major player) earlier than ever before, in order to secure some of the business. Many travel agents nowadays are able to tailor-make a holiday. This means that an agent can go to various different suppliers to put together a package themselves. For example, I could buy a seat from Easyjet, a hotel from a bed supplier and transfers from a taxi company – this would then be a Barrhead Travel holiday and you can enjoy the same financial protection through ATOL as you would purchasing from TUI or Jet2 Holidays for example. In the long term, the travel industry will survive and recover as it has from previous failures. In the short term, a good travel agent will help you find the best deals possible – if you see a price on the internet that seems too good to be true, it often is!