HOLIDAYMAKERS booked with Thomas Cook may be concerned about the debt-written holiday firm.
It is facing a takeover bid from Chinese firm Fosun Tourism Group – its biggest shareholder.
1 Holidaymakers have been reassured that their trips would be safe if the company is sold or in the unlikely event that it went underCredit: EPA
It has also been plagued by massive debts and rumours that it may be about to go bust, forcing the firm to reassure customers that it is not in financial trouble.
The company has closed 21 of its stores and its currency arm Thomas Cook Money is under review, plus there are more “cost efficiencies” planned.
But if you’re a customer who has booked with Thomas Cook, is your holiday safe?
The good news is that holidaymakers will not be left out of pocket if the firm sells, splits or in the extremely unlikely event of closure.
That’s because Thomas Cook holidays are ATOL protected.
By law, every UK travel company which sells package holidays and flights is required to hold an ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence.
If a travel company with an ATOL ceases trading, the scheme protects customers who had booked holidays with the firm – making sure they don’t get stranded abroad or end up out of pocket.
If you booked just flights or accommodation separately then the ATOL protection would not apply.
You may have to claim back costs from your credit card or debit card provider.
Credit card bookings made over £100 (and under £30,000) are protected under Section 75 of the consumer credit act.
While any bookings made using a debit card can be recovered using charge back.
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.
But what would happen if Thomas Cook or part of the business was sold?
Martyn James from Resover said: “When you book a holiday you enter in to a contract – so if another business takes over then your holiday transfers over to the new owners and you shouldn’t experience any problems.
“However it pays to know your rights if a mistake or problem occurs.
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“If the firm changes something about the holiday significantly (like the dates, hotel, flights) then you should be able to cancel without penalty – though I’d expect them to come up with a suitable alternative.”
He adds: “However, always take out a good travel insurance policy – and make sure it begins from the moment you book, so you’re covered if you can’t travel for any reason.”
Going on holiday soon? Read our guide to buying the best and cheapest travel insurance.
The Sun has contacted Thomas Cook for a comment.
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