The UK’s CAA Apologizes For Delay In Thomas Cook Refunds

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued an apology to customers who are still waiting for refunds after the collapse of Thomas Cook in September. All repayments were initially promised within a two-month window. With the deadline due to pass this Friday, over 50,000 customers are still owed money.

Thomas Cook collapse
Thomas Cook customers have experienced delays receiving compensation. Photo: Riik@mctr via Flickr

An apology

After the collapse of the holiday company Thomas Cook on 23 September, the CAA became responsible for repayments to customers who lost money. An official process for applying for a refund was opened on 7 October for all customers who were covered by ATOL insurance.

The CAA initially said it expected to compensate people within 60 days.

So far, £160 million has been paid out for more than 215,000 claims. Despite this, over 50,000 customers are still out of pocket.

Thomas Cook airlines boarding
Over 150,00 had to been repatriated to the UK after the company collapsed Photo: Thomas Cook

In a statement this week, the Civil Aviation Authority issued an official apology for the delay saying: “We are very sorry“. The statement continued by pointing out that “This is the biggest refund operation in UK travel.”

Over 150,000 travelers had to be repatriated back to the UK over the first two weeks after the collapse. The CAA  has said it is “working tirelessly” to fix the problem and that “We really want to make these payments as quickly as we can because it is money people are entitled to“.

What’s causing the delay?

The aviation authority has said that delays in refunding disgruntled passengers were due to “the poor quality and complexity of the data received from multiple booking systems used across the Thomas Cook Group. Additionally, some forms were incorrectly completed and the CAA is having to contact customers to ask for further information about their claims in order to sort out the situation.

They have also stated that they received many fraudulent claims and are now having to sort out any fake claims before paying those who actually need the money. Of the 300,000 claims which have been received so far, only 215,000 have been verified as valid.

Thomas Cook Collapse
A Thomas Cook store sits empty after the collapse. Photo: John K Thorne via Flickr

The CAA also highlighted the delays which can be caused by fraudulent claims; “We have had to put some extra checks in because we were concerned about fraud.” But the official body is confident that all payments will eventually be processed, stating that “This process is in place to make sure the right payments are being made to the right people.”

A CAA spokesman said: “While we would like to process refunds as soon as possible, we are unable to make some payments without verifying all aspects of a submitted claim, and therefore the 60-day claims period is paused while we await the required information.”

Is your refund delayed?

The CAA is asking all those who are still owed money to check their email, including the spam folder, to see if they need to supply more information. If you have an email, check it is official and respond with the correct information as soon as possible. It is important to check that anyone who contacts you from the CAA is genuine. There have been reports of scam artists taking advantage of customer frustration and offering fraudulent ways to get a refund.

But importantly, the CAA has restated its commitment to refunding all customers. So, it may be a slightly leaner Christmas for some than previously expected, but refunds are on the way.