Airlines step in to help stranded XL passengers

[September 12th 2008]

easyJet flight

Following the collapse of XLUK, other airlines and tour operators are stepping in to help the estimated 85,000 XL passengers currently stranded abroad.

The CAA, which operates the ATOL scheme ensuring passengers booked with licensed tour operators are repatriated should these tour operators go bust, says it is working with airlines and major tour operators including Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook and Virgin Holidays to ensure that UK customers currently abroad are taken care of.

For passengers not protected under the ATOL scheme and unable to take advantage of free repatriation flights home, low cost airline easyJet is offering a special rescue fee of £75 for XL passengers to return home to the UK. The offer is open to any XL passenger due to travel inbound to the UK up until 23.59 on September 19th.

easyJet has set up special call lines in Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal for people who would like to make bookings. They will need to provide details of their XL booking reference and present their XL booking confirmation at check in.

First Choice and Thomson say they are organising the repatriation of passengers stranded in Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Sardinia and Egypt who booked ATOL bonded packages. They say these flights will “take place as close to the passengers original departure dates as possible”.

“Our overseas teams will be working closely with the existing XL representatives in resort to facilitate the repatriation of customers back to the UK,” First Choice and Thomson say in a joint statement.

Not surprisingly First Choice and Thomson are also keen to help customers with bookings with XL to arrange alternative holidays. For XL customers who booked direct or through a Thomson or First Choice shop, travel agents will be able to transfer the value of their booking to a new holiday and reclaim the value of the lost holiday for them.

First Choice and Thomson are also calling for the government to protect passengers who booked with low cost airlines, scheduled airlines and online intermediaries which are not ATOL bonded.

“We are frustrated with the Government for not stepping in sooner which means we are now faced with a situation whereby those passengers who were not ATOL protected need our assistance with repatriation and will have to pay for their flight seats home,” says Thomson and First Choice MD, Dermot Blastland.

Written by: Nick Purdom


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