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What to Do If You’ve Been Stranded by Thomas Cook Airlines

The U.K. airline’s website reads, “Error – 404”

In an announcement today, Thomas Cook Airlines stated that it has “no choice but to take steps to enter compulsory liquidation with immediate effect.” In other words, the carrier is finished. Per its website, the business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are canceled. The inconvenience of this move has left many around the world scrambling.

Who Exactly Is Affected?

Because all flights have been grounded at the moment, around 150,000 British flyers overseas have been left stranded. Additionally, the company’s 21,000 employees (in 16 countries) are out of a job. Approximately 16,000 flyers were set to return to the U.K. today, and, according to BBC News, officials hope to get at least 14,000 of them back home. Additional reports suggest that a total of around 500,000 European passengers have been affected by the collapse.

Actions to Take

Whether you’re a (former) Thomas Cook employee or you were in the midst of a trip and taking a Thomas Cook flight, don’t panic. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has set up a “repatriation programme” that will be operating for the next two weeks. The CAA is providing new flights (back to the U.K.) to those who are currently abroad and were flying back to the U.K. via Thomas Cook. The flights will be operated either by the CAA or passengers will be assigned to another airline’s flight that’s already set to take off, including easyJet and Virgin (who are making trips from as far as Malaysia).

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Per its website, the business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are canceled.

Customers who are having issues with accommodations or need assistance should call: 0300-303-3800 in the U.K. or +44-1753-330-330 if they’re abroad. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) (a group whose purpose is to improve the city-region of Manchester) has also set up a site and a helpline (the number for which is 0161-393-6443) for Thomas Cook staff affected by the sudden closure who are living and working in the Greater Manchester area.

Additional Assistance

If you’re a Thomas Cook customer who isn’t necessarily passing through an airport right now but still needs assistance, some international destinations are being understanding. For example, in Turkey (which stands to lose 600,000 to 700,000 annual visits due to Thomas Cook’s closure) the tourism ministry claims that any travelers associated and affected by the airline’s sudden shutdown will not be evicted from any hotel they’re staying at in the country, which sees a large number of U.K. residents pass through its doors.

The CAA says that if you’re abroad and on an “Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL)” package, your flight back to the U.K. and your hotel arrangements will be covered. Offered at U.K. travel businesses, ATOL acts as financial coverage during your travels should mishaps such as this Thomas Cook situation arise.

This Isn’t the First Time (This Year) Flyers Have Been Stranded Abroad

In fact, earlier this month, 13,000 passengers were stranded when French airline Aigle Azur halted all of their flights (from September 7) after going bankrupt. Similarly, Reykjavik-based budget carrier Wow Air canceled at least 20 flights with barely any notice in March due to financial issues. Soon thereafter, they shut down operations entirely.

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