Traveling internationally takes a lot of prepping, planning, and money. Many people wait years before they can finally visit their dream destination.
That’s why it was so devastating to many tourists when this popular UK-based airline shut down their entire operation without a moment’s notice.
Hundreds of thousands travelers became stranded in a foreign country and left to find their own way home. But they won’t be the only ones effected by the airline shutdown.
Who is stranded?
Market Watch reports:
“U.K.-based tour operator Thomas Cook’s liquidation stranded some 600,000 of its customers this week, but the sudden closure will have lasting effects for travelers around the globe, making flights in Europe more expensive but some destinations cheaper.”
For American citizen Joe Datolli and his mother, Thomas Cook closing up shop was more than just an inconvenience.
Vacationing in Scotland was a dream come true—until they got the news that Thomas Cook had filed bankruptcy and all flights were cancelled effective immediately.
BBC Scotland spoke with Datolli, who revealed he was stuck at Glasgow Airport and was forced to pay $2,400 to get back to Orlando, Florida.
Time reported on Datolli’s predicament:
“It’s been frustrating… While we were asleep, ready to head back in the morning, they went out of business and there’s nobody to be seen.”
Who is covered for the inconvenience?
Citizens of the UK will be able to access a fund created by Air Travel Organiser’s Licensing operators (ATOL).
Thomas Cook had an ATOL license which is designed to protect patrons in cases such as this.
The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority said:
“ATOL Protected passengers with future bookings are entitled to a full refund for their cancelled holiday. 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.”
But while UK citizens will be fully refunded, all other travelers will have to look elsewhere for compensation.
So how are American tourists getting home?
Unfortunately, American tourists did not receive any financial protection through Thomas Cook and can only be compensated if they had travel insurance prior to the bankruptcy.
“Many travel insurance policies include coverage for ‘financial default’ of a travel provider,” said Steven Benna, content director at travel insurance website, Squaremouth.com.
But those without travel insurance? Yup! They have to pay out of pocket to come home – which is no small thing for anyone on a tight budget!
In the future, one protection is to go through a company that’s covered by the National Tour Association suggests the organization’s vice president, Bob Rouse.
How will traveling change?
Some international carriers may now raise their prices due to the new influx of demand.
Thomas Cook was in competition with airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair, but with the budget-friendly carrier out of the way, competitors have some wiggle room to raise their fares.
Patrick Whyte, editor for travel industry website, Skift, told Market Watch how this was the moment many airlines had been waiting for:
“Most European airlines have been complaining for years that there is too much capacity in the market. With less competition, prices don’t have to be as low, so customers might find their flights cost more, especially on routes where Thomas Cook was the primary competition.”
How will tourism be affected?
Some popular destinations offered by Thomas Cook, such as Greece, are going to feel the long-term effects from one of the oldest touring companies out of Europe abruptly shutting down.
Their economic losses are said to be between $275 and $500 million.
Spain is another popular tourist destination that will be hit especially hard. Although, for Spain, that may be a good thing.
As Proud American Traveler previously reported, Spain had already put some big restrictions on tourists due to the negative impact mass tourism was having on the country.
On the flip side, many tourist companies may lower their holiday packages to pick up the customers left out of luck after the airline shut down.
However, the sudden bankruptcy may deter Americans from purchasing all-inclusive European packages altogether.
But Europe definitely has a lot to offer the adventurous and culture-seeking traveler – just be sure to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances like becoming a victim of pickpocketing, losing your luggage, or getting stranded in a foreign country!
Please let us know in the comments section if you’ve been affected by the Thomas Cook closure, or have an insurance policy for traveling.