Following the collapse of holiday giant Thomas Cook some British holidaymakers in Spain have reported being asked to pay their own bills in hotels.
In some hotels people were reportedly asked to pay their bills on the spot or leave, even though they had paid for their holiday upfront through Thomas Cook.
But the British Ambassador to Spain sent a message of calm, reiterating that all bills for Thomas Cook package holiday customers are guaranteed under the ATOL scheme.
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority which is charged with repatriating holidaymakers has sent out letters of guarantee to all establishments booked through Thomas Cook.
“I hope that confirmation that the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has already sent a guarantee of payment to every hotel with Thomas Cook package holiday customers, assures holiday makers that there should not be any surprise bills,” said Hugh Elliott who took up his post as British Ambassador in Madrid earlier this month.
He added, “If you are on an ATOL-protected package holiday and are experiencing difficulties from the hotel or they are requesting payment from you, my advice is that you call the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority as soon as possible, ” he added. “It is also important not to make a payment to your hotel unless you are instructed to do so by the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s team”.
Holidaymakers were told to check that their booking was ATOL protected – if you are then you should have received an ATOL certificate as part of your reservation process. But if you are not sure, visit the dedicated website to check.
“Travellers who are not ATOL protected with any company that was part of the Thomas Cook Group, are not entitled to make a claim for expenses under the ATOL scheme, although they may be able to claim from their travel insurer, bank or credit card issuer,” said a statement from the British Embassy in Madrid.
My sympathies with all those caught up in #ThomasCook collapse at Spanish airports. Our consular teams are on the ground to help and make sure everyone gets back to the UK. Thank you for patience with some delays. Visit https://t.co/3Ce2Nh4mos for latest info. pic.twitter.com/5fxKLUCmbZ
— Hugh Elliott (@HughElliottUK) September 23, 2019
What to do if you are on a Thomas Cook holiday in Spain
Thomas Cook package holiday customers are covered by Atol – Air Travel Organiser’s Licence – which protects accommodation and return flights in case of the company going bust.
- Check for replacement flights
The first peice of advice issued by authorities is don't travel to the airport to catch your flight home unless you have been notified about a replacement flight.
All information about replacement flights will appear on the dedicated website.
Be prepared for the fact that your replacement flight may not be at the same time as your original or take you to the same destination. The CAA said it will provide buses between airports to ensure that passengers are transported to the airport they left from.
- Don't pay extra at hotel
The CAA said holidaymakers should not have to pay their hotel bills – bills that are usually picked up by the tour company after the stay – but that nervous hoteliers may try to pressurise tourists into leaving or foot their own bill. Any such requests should be refered to the CAA to deal with.
- What about other expenses incurred with cancellations?
Passengers currently overseas may also make claims for the cost of replacing ATOL protected parts of their trip, or for out-of-pocket expenses as a result of delayed flights home.
- Not yet on holiday?
ATOL Protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday.
- What about flight only?
The British government has said that even flight-only customers will be taken care of, even though flight only bookings are not Atol protected.
“Everyone on a Thomas Cook holiday with a return flight to the UK within the two weeks will be brought home,” said the Department for Transport.
If your return flight is after the two week period then you may have to cover your own costs home.
- How to make a claim:
“The Civil Aviation Authority will be launching a service to manage all refunds by Monday 30th September, once the flying operation has progressed. This refunds service will seek to process all refunds within 60 days of full information being received.”
Any problems visit the website or phone CAA direct on: +44 1753 330 330
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