Northampton Thomas Cook shop closed and holidays in turmoil following travel agent's 'tragic' collapse
The collapse of Thomas Cook has left holiday-makers from Northampton concerned about getting home while the store on Abington Street has been closed.
The world's oldest travel agent ceased trading this morning (Monday, September 23) after a last-ditch attempt to find £200m failed, sparking the UK's biggest repatriation operation since World War II.
Joanna and Gwyn Evans-Jones, from Lings, were due to fly home from their honeymoon in Rhodes on Wednesday with Thomas Cook - but no replacement has been organised yet.
"The main worry is that I need special assistance and I can't get through to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ask for it. Also if the flight is delayed I'll run out of medication," she said.
"All the Thomas cook rep said is 'we'll get you home'. The hotel and people who flew with Thomas cook are very calm for now."
On a Chronicle & Echo Facebook post about the Thomas Cook collapse, readers have been sharing their issues with many having family members affected.
Catrina Pounds said Thomas Cook employees are 'working hard' to support customers like her mother who is on holiday.
"The rep has been brilliant going into the hotel explain what’s happened and helping them despite being very upset at having lost her job overnight and not knowing how she will get home," she wrote.
"Luckily my mum's hotel is one of the hotels that isn’t kicking TC customers out for unpaid bills.
"I feel for the staff that are loyal and have been screwed over by poor management"
But Sarah Kightley replied to Catrina saying she is away with Thomas Cook too but has seen no sign of the rep.
Steph Thornton-McCrudden commented: "We’ve booked to go away next year with Thomas cook, and now obviously can’t go, so need to get our money back."
On the lighter side, William Collyer wrote: "I’m gutted," with a picture of him holding a pint of beer next to the swimming pool.
Advice for customers
Rob Gower from Dragonfly Traveller, a travel specialist based in Hardingstone, gave his advice for any Thomas Cook customers abroad or in the UK following the firm's 'tragic' demise.
"As of this morning, all holidays and flights provided by Thomas Cook have been cancelled and are no longer operating," he said.
"All Thomas Cook shops have also closed, so customers are advised to visit the CAA website for updates and advice at thomascook.caa.co.uk."
The CAA and government are working together to fly passengers back to the UK between September 23, and October 6, and are providing free flights home.
After this date, passengers will have to make their own travel arrangements, Rob said, and those abroad are advised to visit the CAA website and enter their flight details to find out what arrangements have been put in place for them specifically.
For customers who have booked future holidays with Thomas Cook, they should be protected and get their money back, Rob added.
"The bad news is, it could take a long time. Customers who have booked holidays through Thomas Cook are ATOL protected and if an ATOL protected travel company ceases trading, the scheme protects customers who have booked holidays with the firm," he said.
"I would also advise anyone who has lost money on airport parking or other holiday-related expenses incurred as a result of the Thomas Cook collapse to keep documentation and receipts of these too, as these will also be reclaimable through the ATOL protection scheme.
But those who have booked Thomas Cook flights only will not necessarily be covered through ATOL, and will need to speak to their own tour operator or claim the money back through their bank or credit card provider.
Rob said the CAA will let customers know how they can go about claiming their refunds once the repatriation process has been completed, but the process is likely to take up to two months.
"This is a very sad day for the travel industry and my sympathies are with all of those affected, particularly the 22,000 Thomas Cook employees who have lost their jobs - 9,000 of those being here in the UK," he added.
"This is a constantly moving situation and I would advise customers to keep checking the CAA website for updates.”