THE compulsory liquidation of Thomas Cook has triggered the largest repatriation of British citizens from abroad since war time. 

Over 150,000 Thomas Cook customers will now be brought home from holiday destinations across the globe. It will come as no surprise that the collapse of Thomas Cook has left many consumers, both at home and away, with many questions about what they should do and what will happen to their hard-earned money. 

The UK Government and the Civil Aviation Authority are overseeing the situation, but as Scotland’s new consumer advice service, we have been contacted by people from across Scotland seeking assistance.

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Our role is to provide free, impartial and practical advice to anyone affected. The most pressing issue is for those currently on their holiday.

Those with Atol-protected flights booked through Thomas Cook, up to and including October 5, will be provided with repatriation flights back to the UK.

his should come as a huge relief to the thousands affected. Anyone flying on or after October 6 will be required to make their own travel arrangements unless Atol protected.

For those being flown home, information surrounding the specific flight arrangements will be made available as soon as possible. 

This information will be provided up to 72 hours prior to the time of the original flight. The best place to find specific information, including flight times based on destination, is at the website https://thomascook.caa.co.uk. 

Those already abroad are being advised not to go to the airport unless the new flight details have been confirmed on the website, or by direct contact with the lead representative in the travel party. 

When all details of return flights have been confirmed, consumers should travel to the airport, ensuring they arrive at least three hours before their scheduled flight time.

But it’s not just flights that are affected, as Thomas Cook also sold package holidays.

The Civil Aviation Authority is working to guarantee board for those currently staying in accommodation booked as part of an Ayol-protected holiday package with Thomas Cook. Individuals who are experiencing issues with their accommodation are advised to contact the CAA directly but this process may take a few days to complete. 

During this time, it has asked holidaymakers to not make any additional payments to the accommodation provider, unless they are specifically instructed to do so by the CAA.

HeraldScotland:

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Holidaymakers are also advised that they may also be subject to relocation for alternative accommodation. However, the CAA has confirmed that in this instance, other suppliers for services such as transfers, will be advised of these changes, as well as alterations to flight times.

Meanwhile, back home there are thousands of Scots who have future holidays booked through Thomas Cook. The bad news is if you previously booked a package holiday with Thomas Cook, this will now be cancelled. 

Even in situations where flights have been booked with another airline, accommodation and additional services booked through Thomas Cook will be cancelled. Therefore, those with flights booked with the airline are advised not to travel to UK airports. 

But there are courses of action that consumers can take to get their money back. Those with Atol protection should seek refunds under the Atol scheme. The booking documentation and agreement should contain information on whether the holiday is Atol protected or not. 

Those who are not Atol protected cannot make claims via this scheme. However, consumers can attempt to claim payments for holidays made by credit or debit card through their bank or credit card provider.

Anything on a credit card in excess of £100 will be covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit act by the card provider. 

For any purchases made under £100, or by debit card, your bank may be able to help in the form of their chargeback scheme. 

You should contact your bank or card issuer to see if these options are available to you. Failing these methods, travel insurance providers can be consulted. 
Some travel insurance policies cover cancellations, yet there can be restrictions in some policies based on circumstances where travel providers becoming insolvent. 

The CAA has advised that additional information will be provided on refund arrangements by September 30. 

It is vital to remember that if you believe you are due a refund, don’t leave claiming to the last minute.

The final course of action is through application to the administrators of Thomas Cook, once they are appointed. 

This can take a considerable amount of time and using this process may mean that you won’t receive a full refund, as the claims of other creditors (one of which you would become) will also be taken into consideration. 

There are many different circumstances, and consumer advice.scot offers impartial advice to the Scottish public which is free at the point of use. We are available via telephone on 0808 164 6000, as well as email, web-chat and social media. 

Colin Mathieson is Knowledge co-ordinator at consumeradvice.scot