Thomas Cook customers who face being stranded abroad have slammed the travel company for masking the extent of its problems.
Worried Britons who flew to Ibiza on Thomas Cook package holidays yesterday said staff carried on as normal despite the likelihood of the 178-year-old firm going bust today.
It comes as dozens of British holidaymakers were ‘held hostage’ by guards at a hotel in Tunisia amid fears it would not be paid by the firm if it went bankrupt.
The growing uncertainty around the company’s future had pensioners worrying they would be thrown out of their Ibiza hotels and others fearing they would be unable to return home to work and family commitments.
Jacqui and Steve Butler (pictured) from Stoke-on-Trent arrived in Ibiza yesterday morning. The couple left their children, aged 24 and 22, back in England. Postman Mr Butler, 47, joked: ‘I’ve told the kids if we are not back by December then they can get worried’
But despite the unease, many tourists spoken to by the Daily Mail yesterday vowed to continue enjoying their holiday.
Jacqui and Steve Butler from Stoke-on-Trent arrived in Ibiza yesterday morning.
The couple left their children, aged 24 and 22, back in England. Postman Mr Butler, 47, joked: ‘I’ve told the kids if we are not back by December then they can get worried.’
Retired teaching assistant Pat Fleming, 72, said she visited a Thomas Cook travel agency on Saturday looking to cancel her trip after reading about the company’s financial problems. ‘I wanted to cancel because I was frightened thinking I wouldn’t be able to get back to England or the holiday would be ruined. But they told me to just act like normal. It seemed strange after I had read they might ground flights. I am worried about not getting home. The travel agent said don’t take any notice of it. They told us to carry on as normal.’
Because the company is covered by Atol protection, package holiday tourists already abroad have been assured that plans will be put in place to bring them home.
A bride-to-be is ‘numb’ with worry as Thomas Cook’s woes threaten her £50,000 wedding. Katy Williams (pictured with fiance Peter Whyman) fears the ceremony in Ayia Napa could end ‘in tatters’ if the chain goes bust
Barbara Soar, 70, from Barnsley, also bemoaned the operator’s lack of communication with affected passengers.
‘We have not seen a Thomas Cook rep, not even once,’ she said. ‘We haven’t got a clue what’s going on. We don’t know what’s happening. We would expect them to be helping us but I imagine they’ve jumped on the plane and gone home themselves.
‘It’s a real shame about Thomas Cook. The very first holiday I had in 1973 was a package with Thomas Cook – it’s a shame as they have been going so long.’
A company representative working in nearby San Antonio said: ‘It’s business as usual. We haven’t had any updates ourselves. I will be out of a job if it goes into administration.’
Despite fears over return trips to Britain, the overwhelming feeling on the party island was to continue enjoying the sun, sea and sangria until the last possible moment.
Nursery assistant Georgina Humphries and four friends arrived in Ibiza from their homes in Stoke-on-Trent yesterday for a three-day trip. The 21-year-old said: ‘We are not too fussed. I’m sure we’ll get back, one way or another. I don’t mind if I stay – if I’ve got to stay, it’s happy days really!
‘We were reading about it before we travelled but it didn’t put us off. We aren’t going to let it spoil our holiday.’
In Tunisia, a group of 30 Britons were told to hand over thousands of pounds on Saturday, despite having already paid Thomas Cook for their hotel stay. Guards were stationed at the locked gates of Les Orangers, in the resort town of Hammamet, as staff insisted the customers needed to pay again in order to leave.
Sophie Rees, 24, from Swansea, said: ‘We did not pay them. We already had paid Thomas Cook and it sounded a little bit dodgy. However a woman, who I would say was in her late 80s or early 90s, paid £2,500.’
Retired teaching assistant Pat Fleming, 72 (pictured with her husband Dennis), said she visited a Thomas Cook travel agency on Saturday looking to cancel her trip after reading about the company’s financial problems
The stand-off was resolved several hours later amid claims by guests that two company representatives entered the hotel and handed over a large amount of money.
Thomas Cook refused to answer questions about whether any of the guests had handed over money, or whether it had paid the hotel.
A heart patient who feared she would run out of medication if stranded abroad has been bought a replacement flight by a kind stranger.
Jackie Ward, 58, was due to fly home from her Thomas Cook holiday to Majorca today and had not brought any extra medicine away with her.
Speaking on Saturday, Miss Ward said: ‘I’ve only brought enough medication till Sunday, thinking we’ll get home on Monday. I’ll take it Monday when I get home… I haven’t got anything.’
Her daughter Amy, 24, told Sky News that it ‘could even be fatal’ if her mother missed her medication, while stranded on the Spanish island.
The pair, from Newcastle uponTyne, booked their holiday to celebrate the mother’s recovery from cancer. Her daughter added: ‘It’s devastating. This holiday was supposed to be celebratory and it’s not that any more.’
Their saviour, a anonymous viewer who gave his name only as Colin, wrote to a Sky News journalist to offer his help after hearing of Miss Ward’s plight.
He said he had booked alternative flights – so the heart patient and her daughter could arrive home on time as planned.
Passengers flying from Antalya, Turkey, to Glasgow on Friday were relieved to have boarded what could be one of Thomas Cook’s last ever flights. But when a fault with the plane prevented it from taking off, they were stranded at the airport overnight
A couple due to get married in Cyprus next month face losing thousands of pounds.
Chloe Sharpe and Paul Kerfoot, both 27, have spent £6,000 with the troubled tour operator and another £9,000 on wedding extras including a photographer from Marbella and a boat trip.
They now face an anxious wait to see if the firm will survive or if they will lose their money.
‘Our Thomas Cook wedding coordinator hasn’t got back to my emails. It’s very stressful for both Paul and I,’ she said.
‘As it’s so close to going, it feels like we aren’t going to be able to get married. If they do go bust, we’d have to sort another wedding out. Cyprus means a lot to us emotionally.’
More than 50 guests were due to travel for the wedding. Many have also booked with Thomas Cook which means they too face losing their money, with some saying they cannot afford to rebook.
Check-in at Thomas Cook at Gatwick showed people queueing for flights without knowing how they might return
The couple chose Cyprus after Mr Kerfoot, an electrician, proposed at a church in the seaside resort of Protaras during a holiday in 2017.
The wedding coordinator in Cyprus has booked the church and Paphos town hall for the reception on October 15.
Miss Sharpe, a hairdresser from Loughborough, said: ‘It’s a lot of money to lose and if they do go bust, it’s a case of finding another £6,000 to find another holiday and find another wedding package.’
Her mother Jennifer Sharpe, said: ‘Two years in the planning, saving every penny, you know, to get out there. The uncertainty at the moment – we’re just thinking, what’s going to happen? I’ve been constantly worrying and up all night. I’ve been waking up and going on the internet, checking it all day when Chloe is at work.
‘She just said: “Can you just keep checking for me what’s happening”.’ Miss Sharpe had her hen do over the weekend, but said the uncertainty ‘put a bit of a dampener on things’.
A bride-to-be is ‘numb’ with worry as Thomas Cook’s woes threaten her £50,000 wedding.
Katy Williams fears the ceremony in Ayia Napa could end ‘in tatters’ if the chain goes bust.
It would force her to start planning from scratch – and may mean her terminally-ill mother, Carol Milne, 63, misses out.
Miss Williams, from Redcar, North Yorkshire, said: ‘It’s touch and go. I’m not sleeping. It’s horrible. I’m just numb.’
The 33-year-old is due to marry off-shore oil rig worker Peter Whyman on October 2 – but their flights to Cyprus and hotel rooms for 48 guests are at risk.
The couple, pictured, fear they could ‘lose everything’ – and say they cannot face telling their three excited children that the big day is in jeopardy.