Following the collapse of travel giant Thomas Cook overnight (Monday 23rd September) many local customers have been affected, as well as staff from local branches in Northfield, Longbridge, Halesowen and beyond. 

While rail companies are doing what they can to help customers, an award winning local travel company has offered a lifeline to employees of local branches. 

Birmingham internet based travel company Holidaysplease are inviting Thomas Cook staff to apply for positions with them. And if Thomas Cook employees are successful in their applications, Holidaysplease will look at the potential for setting up local offices to avoid relocation and keep current staff teams working together.

Director Richard Dixon said: “Our motivation is really to help in any small [way] we can. Whilst ridiculously competitive, the travel industry is actually a very tight knit community, so seeing 9,000 colleagues losing their jobs hits home.”

Richard said that – while many of their current travel advisors work from home – they recognise that homeworking is not for everyone.

So they came up with an idea to help affected colleagues remain working together.

He said: “We just thought, if there are any Thomas Cook shop staff that would like to continue to work together as a team, how about we help them set up an office in their area, and give them the opportunity to build a business under our umbrella. We have the technology and systems to get them up and running pretty quickly, they just need to bring energy and enthusiasm.”

And he praised Thomas Cook staff as some of the most passionate and well trained travel agents in the country, adding: “[The] thought of losing so many of them from our industry is a horrible one. If our little initiative helps just some of them to stay in travel, doing what they love selling holidays, then we would be chuffed to bits.”

Thomas Cook staff are invited to apply for positions online or contact Holidaysplease recruitment manager Agne for more information about he possibility of setting up a local office by emailing agne@holidaysplease.com

Help with rail travel for repatriated customers

Rail companies have also stepped up to assist Thomas Cook customers who may be affected.

Rescue flights are currently being arranged by the Civil Aviation Authority and the Government to bring back more than 150,000 British passengers who have been stranded abroad.

Some of these passengers may find they are flown back to a different UK airport than they had planned.

All train companies have already agreed to allow passengers booked on their services to travel on an alternative service if needed.

West Midlands Railway (WMR) and London Northwestern Railway (LNR) have gone one step further by offering free travel to displaced Thomas Cook customers dropped at a different airport.

The companies have also pledged refund train tickets which were bought for holidays which are no longer going ahead and are not covered by travel insurance.

Andy Camp, commercial director for WMR and LNR, said: “Following the collapse of Thomas Cook we know there will be a lot of stress for passengers as they try to make alternative arrangements to get home or replan their upcoming holidays.

“With both Liverpool John Lennon and Birmingham International airports on our network we want to do our part to help those who have been affected or displaced by this sad situation.”

To claim their free travel on West Midlands Railway or London Northwestern Railway services, passengers should show relevant Thomas Cook documentation to senior conductors.

Help for customers who have not yet travelled

For cancelled holidays, passengers’ travel insurance should cover the cost of any rail tickets, but if customers experience difficulties with this they should contact West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway. The refund will apply even if the ticket type is usually non-refundable.

General help an advice

The UK Civil Aviation Authority have set up an information page for customers and traders affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook

Cover image: Russell Lee [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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