U.K. tour operator and airline Thomas Cook went out of business, leaving many travelers stranded and scrambling.
Last month, the company posted the following message on its website homepage:
“Thomas Cook UK Plc and associated UK entities have entered Compulsory Liquidation and are now under the control of the Official Receiver.
“The UK business has ceased trading with immediate effect and all future flights and holidays are cancelled.”
The Department for Transport then initiated “the largest repatriation in peacetime history,” enlisting “dozens of charter planes” to bring around 150,000 overseas customers home.
The DFT said, “all customers currently abroad with Thomas Cook who are booked to return to the UK over the next two weeks will be brought home as close as possible to their booked return date.” The repatriation flights started Sept. 23.
“All Thomas Cook customers wherever they are around the world, will be brought back to the UK on special free flights or booked onto another scheduled airline at no extra cost,” said the DFT.
“The dedicated website will provide all the information customers need to access these flights. A small number of passengers may need to book their own flight home and reclaim the costs.
“For flights back to the UK, it doesn’t matter whether customers are ATOL protected or not, or what their nationality is. Everyone on a Thomas Cook holiday with a return flight to the UK within the two weeks will be brought home.
“Under normal circumstances, passengers who are not ATOL protected would be asked to find, and pay for, their own way home. However, given the extent of the disruption the government is stepping in to assist impacted passengers and get people home.
“Hundreds of staff from many government departments and agencies, including the UK CAA, the Department for Transport and the Foreign Office, will be deployed in call centres and at airports to help people.”
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