The customers of Thomas Cook have accused airlines of cashing in on the holiday firm’s demise after being faced with high bills to book replacement flights. People complained that their booked flights have to be replaced and in some cases, prices for the flights have tripled.
In January, Fraser Mallen and his wife paid £779 for Thomas Cook flights to New York for next month. They complained that on Monday they had to pay more than £6,000 for replacements. They booked their US breakthrough Expedia to celebrate the 53-year-old ex-coal miner’s recovery from open-heart surgery three years ago.
An Expedia representative contacted him on Monday after Thomas Cook’s collapse and offered return flights to New York for two at £3,009. Mr. Mallen told sources, in the 10 minutes it took him to transfer additional funds into his bank account and he was told by Expedia that those flights had gone.
The company told him that they could arrange a flight for him and his wife out on Virgin Atlantic for £1,489 each and back on Delta for £1,570 per ticket – a total of £6,118. Mr. Mallen will be refunded as Expedia said it will claim the money through ATOL.
“If you can’t afford the new flight price upfront until the insurance comes through, you lose your holiday,” he said for others. The analysts said that the prices reflected high demands on routes with few spare seats.
John Strickland, an airline analyst at JLS Consulting said, “People aren’t sitting there rubbing their hands with glee. If sales come in rapidly on popular routes then prices go up.”
September was the exact time for holidays when people visits outside the peak school holiday period and many flights were already very full, said Mr. Strickland. He complained that the airlines could decide to halt price rises but said firms had to be commercially driven.
“Thomas Cook has failed because it had massive debts and it was making a loss. It’s a fragile industry. More than a dozen airlines have gone bust,” he said.
“If the airlines don’t make profits where they can on a minority of flights then they don’t stand a chance of surviving,” he added.