Thomas Cook collapse: stranded Britons face demands for hotel payment

Collapse of Thomas Cook has created confusion and distress as UK launches repatriation operation

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As they came to the end of their holiday in the Turkish resort of Dalyan, the parents of British holidaymaker Matt Kind were left scrabbling to find money for three weeks of accommodation that they had already paid for.

Mr Kind, 47, from Leicester, and his parents were due to leave to fly back to Britain on Monday but the hotel said they could not leave until they settled their bill.

They had booked and paid for their holiday in November 2018 when they had no concerns that Thomas Cook was going bust. Hotel staff had told them that they had not been paid anything since May and wanted their money.

Mr Kind – who had stayed for just a week compared to his parents three – said he was now unsure what to do and could find no information online to guide him. The family had not had any contact with anyone from Thomas Cook throughout his stay, he said.

“My parents’ holiday is a one off – three weeks that they have saved for and now are having to find the money to pay the hotel again,” he said.

The government said the CAA was contacting hotels being used by Thomas Cook customers, advising them that the costs of accommodating those people who booked as part of a package would be covered as part of the operation.

For Mr Kind, a retail worker, the promise of extra costs being covered by the government was not enough.

“It’s only money in the grand scheme of things,” he said.

“We’ll manage but most of our week has been marred with concern about what’s happening - knowing that you are protected and will get home at some point doesn’t stop you thinking about the logistics of it all.”

Mr Kind added that his family “feel very saddened for the people who find themselves out of a job today.”

At Antalya airport, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, passengers faced delays of more than three hours as they queued to see if they could get home, with some customers reporting problems with the repatriation effort.

Passengers are seen at Thomas Cook check-in points at Enfidha-Hammamet International Airport, Tunisia September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

“Some families have been told they can’t fly together which seems to be a breakdown in communication somewhere,” said traveller Frank Boyd, 49, from Colchester. “It seems they haven’t looked at the original bookings to see who’s flying with who.”

John Rafferty, 64, of Coleraine, Northern Ireland, said his party had experienced few problems apart from the delay.

“We booked everything with Thomas Cook,” he said. “We’ve known for the last few months that they’ve had financial difficulties but we found out this morning they were bankrupt.

“We went online and found out our flight had been rescheduled. When we came to the airport there were lots of reps from the CAA and FCO to help out. Basically it’s just a long wait."

Despite the delays, most of Thomas Cook's customers expressed sympathy for the travel company's staff.

Mr Kind said that his family “feel very saddened for the people who find themselves out of a job today”.

Similarly, Mr Rafferty said he felt sorry for the staff. "At least we're going home to jobs," he said.