Thomas Cook latest – your rights if it goes bust and how to get a refund

THOUSANDS of holidaymakers could be affected if the tour operator goes bust.

Thomas Cook is seeking £200million in extra funding as it desperately tries to prevent a collapse.

Thomas Cook planned a £900million rescue deal led by Chinese firm Fosun late last month.

But its lenders, which include about 10 banks led by taxpayer-saved Royal Bank of Scotland, demanded another £200million buffer.

If the firm can't secure extra funding, up to 150,000 holiday Brits could be stranded and 21,000 staff members without jobs, experts warn.

But what are your rights if the firm goes bust? Here we round-up everything you need to know.

How do I get home if Thomas Cook goes bust?

If Thomas Cook does collapse, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is expected to launch a major repatriation operation to fly home UK holidaymakers stranded abroad.

It will involve hiring aircrafts at a cost to taxpayers of millions of pounds.

This happens because Thomas Cook's package holidays are ATOL-protected, a requirement of UK travel companies which sell package holidays and flights.

If a travel company with an ATOL ceases trading, the scheme protects customers who had booked package holidays with the firm – making sure they don't get stranded abroad.

When Monarch went bust in October 2017, the Government spent £60million getting passengers home.

If you've booked a package holiday

If you've booked a package holiday with Thomas Cook and the tour operator ends up going bust, you also shouldn't be left out of pocket.

This is because you'll be financially protected through the ATOL scheme too.

That means those already abroad will be able to continue with their holiday and an alternative flight home will be organised for them.

But if you are asked to make a further payment to stay in your hotel, then pay this, keep receipts, and make a claim to the CAA when you return to the UK.

Those with future bookings will be offered a full refund.

If you've booked flights and accommodation separately

If you've only booked your flights or accommodation with Thomas Cook then you're unlikely to be financially protected as they're not ATOL-protected.

In that scenario, you should try claiming back any extra costs via Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

It means that if you pay for a big purchase on your credit card and something happens – the tour operator goes bust, for example – your card provider is just as responsible as Thomas Cook to refund you.

There are a few caveats to the legal protection – the purchase you are making must cost between £100 and £30,000 and it's important to remember that it only applies to credit cards.

If you’ve booked extras such as care hire

IF you book arrangements other than a package holiday or flight, such as car hire, you also won’t be protected by ATOL if Thomas Cook goes bust.

This means it’s important to buy appropriate travel insurance to ensure you’re not left out of pocket.

Most policies will provide cover if you have to cancel your trip because of unforeseen circumstances, but it's worth double-checking if your policy includes extras such as care hire.

We’ve made a round-up of the best travel insurance policies.

To make a claim, contact your credit card provider – your first port of call should be its customer service – and tell them you want to make a claim under Section 75.

It should then send you a claim form which you can fill in and your provider will use to process your application.

If you paid for your flights by debit card (or by credit card and the cost is under £100) then you might be able to claim under chargeback rules.

You must do this within 120 days to get money back, but unlike Section 75, this is not a legal requirement.

Your rights if you're yet to travel

If you're yet to travel, your first action should be to contact the travel company to make sure that your booking is in place.

Simply contact Thomas Cook's tour operator or agent, your accommodation provider and your airline.

Or if the turbulence around the company is making you feel uneasy, and you'd like to cancel your trip then you may be able to get a refund.

But depending on the type of holiday you've booked you might end up losing more money in cancellation fees.

If your holiday is ATOL protected don't cancel it. You will get a full refund if the company goes bust.

How do I know if my holiday is ATOL protected?

WHEN you book a holiday, the ATOL holder or their agent must give you a certificate confirming you are ATOL protected as soon as you hand over any money – including a deposit – for a holiday or flight.

Make sure you obtain and keep all the relevant paperwork in case you need to make a claim.

But be aware, the protection only covers British-based firms, so it's vital to check. When lowcostholidays went bust in 2016, customers weren't protected by ATOL because the company had moved to Spain in 2013.

Some travel companies display the ATOL logo on their websites even though they don't offer financial protection.

To check it's genuine, look for a number on the logo and check it out on the CAA's website.

You should be wary if the travel provider has no ATOL number, or if the number doesn't have four or five digits.

If you aren't sure about the website, don't book through it.

Another key term Brits should be aware of is ABTA. While ATOL protects flight-based packages, ABTA protects everything else such as cruise or self-drive trips.

Will travel insurance cover me?

If you’re not covered by ATOL or your credit card, you might still have cover if you have the right type of insurance.

You should check the fine print of your insurance for both Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) and End Supplier Failure to see whether you would be covered.

SAFI is flight coverage only while End Supplier Failure will include certain other costs as well, depending on your policy.

End Supplier Failure will cover costs for hotels or airlines if they go bust, such as non-refundable hotel and travel bookings, according to comparison site MoneySuperMarket.

It can also include cover for transportation such as ferries, trains and coaches, and villas and cottages.

However, the refunded costs will only be what you originally paid – you will have to rebook your holiday independently, which may end up costing more than your previous booking.

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