It’s not every day that a massive inter-country airline shutdown, but that’s exactly what happened to Thomas Cook Air. The UK based airline suddenly ceased all operations midday, forcing planes to land and passengers to disembark planes ready for take off. With the airline now kaput, there was no one to pay for the plane’s lease or the fuel used for transportation. Lucky for the passengers, the UK government offers services to those who missed flights as Thomas Cook is a UK based company. The government requires that should an airline go out of business, the burden shall be picked up and paid for by the government of the UK.
But if your airline isn’t based in the UK, you may have some trouble getting your reimbursement. So, what do you do if your airline goes kaput? Today we’ll be looking at the steps you can take to prepare for such an event, and what you can do should such a thing happen to you.
First off, we should note that this is much more likely to have in Europe. Most of the airlines that end up going defunct are local airlines which focus on short economy flights to nearby airports. In the USA, we don’t have as many competing airlines as the entirety of the EU does. In the cases where two companies are competing in a similar niche here in the states, it’s much more likely that the companies merge and that flights continue you. But what are the signs of an airline on the verge of collapse?
Make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the news. A controversy rocking Delta doesn’t have the same effect that it does on a much smaller airline. The news is also quick to point out when an airline announces low earnings. Typically airlines rake in the majority of their earnings during the summer travel season, so if an airline announces consecutive low summer earnings you know they might be in trouble. Typically an airline will announce closure ahead of time and cancel flights before you arrive at the airport, but this isn’t always the case.
What to do if it Happens to You?
A canceled flight might mean wasted vacation days. This doesn’t always have to be the case though. In many cases, the airline will attempt to offer you credit with a competitor so that you don’t take any monetary legal action to acquire reimbursement. In some cases, competitors will offer discounted fares simply to lure in disgruntled fliers. These competing airlines might be taking advantage of the situation to acquire new customers, but in this situation it’s hard to complain.
Make sure to notify your hotels that you may be arriving late, and see if you can re-book your dates if your new flight is on a different date. You don’t have to miss out on your vacation if you stay calm and try to move things around a bit. Most will be sympathetic to your situation, especially considering you are not in control of the circumstances. Try to stay calm, stress will only make the situation worse as we all tend to make rash decisions while stressed. Decisions like blaming the airline closure on the now unemployed attendant trying to explain that their employer just went out of business.
What if you have a Visa?
Unfortunately if your passport has a visa in it, it won’t suddenly extend because your flight got canceled. This can be especially troublesome if you’re attempting to enter a country with a particularly strict visa application process that only issues short term stay visas. In this case, having your flight pushed back a few days could mean permanently shaving a few days off your trip even if you’re able to re-book. If this is the case with you, you may not have any other choice but to reapply for the visa or request an extension from the consulate that issued the visa. While this rarely happens, it can if the reason is good enough. If this is not an option and you have sometime before your new flight, you can always reapply for the visa using an expedited service which can get you a visa in only a few days.
In some cases, you simply won’t be able to do anything. A small airline closing with no competitors offering cheap flights, and a consulate that refuses to extend your visa could always be your situation. If this happens to you, the most you can do is hope that the airline you are buying your replacement ticket from has good on flight snacks. In all seriousness, this can happen, and should it happen while you’re in a foreign country, it may be best to contact the local consulate servicing your nationality to see if some form of compensation can be agreed upon.
Need a Passport or Visa?
If you don’t want to wait a month for your passport, you can always apply with us, here at The Passport Office. We offer professional private courier services that allow us to get you your passport in as quickly as one day depending on your situation. You can apply online, or visit one of our many offices across the nation to get your application started today.
Likewise, we offer many visa services over at Visa Service Department, and we offer specialty services with China Visa Department. As veterans in the travel documentation industry, we offer you secure passport-to-visa services with some of the lowest rates in the business. All of our offices offer both passport and visa services, so give us a call, visit us online, or stop by in person to inquire about what you’ll need to travel or to get the process started today.