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News & Advice

Snow diverts planes north, and is Thomas Cook a safe bet for Antalya this summer?


Q. We were flying from Murcia to Stansted on Ryanair. Due to the runway at Stansted being closed, our flight was diverted to Newcastle for refuelling. However, we were eventually told to get off the plane at 2am and to make our own way home. We endured a very uncomfortable and stressful time getting back to Stansted – spending around £300. I thought we had a contract with Ryanair to get us to Stansted? Margaret Wellington

A. In theory you do, but the practical application of passengers' rights legislation is far from perfect. The airline is legally obliged to deliver you to your final destination, and take care of you along the way. In practice, airlines often leave you to your own devices in difficult circumstances.

In this case, Ryanair says its efforts to get you back to Stansted were thwarted because "coach drivers were refusing to travel due to the weather". As a result, "passengers were asked to source alternative onward travel and accommodation, and to submit receipts to Ryanair". You will need to ensure your claim is fully itemised and supported by receipts if you are to get a swift resolution from the airline.


Q. We are considering booking a flight-only to Antalya in September with Thomas Cook. Is this advisable bearing in mind its recent problems or should we opt for a flight with Monarch? Robert Dennis

A. Flight tickets bought direct from an airline are generally not covered by the Atol protection scheme. But since you would presumably buy them with a debit or credit card, your money will be protected by the financial institution.

When an airline fails, people holding flight-only tickets often have to pay much higher fares to get to their destination. So the broader question is: how likely is Thomas Cook to go out of business? The indications are that, after a rocky few months, Britain's second-largest holiday company is rebuilding financially.

A more significant concern is that you are choosing to source flights and accommodation separately. That means you do not have the protection of the Package Travel Regulations – which basically means "if things go wrong, the tour operator is obliged to sort them out".