Thomas Cook ceases operations, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hundreds of thousands of travelers have been left stranded, not able to board flights or check into hotels they've already booked - all because the travel company Thomas Cook has suddenly gone out of business.

The travel firm stopped all its flights and laid off all its employees.

Carolyn West is in Manchester England and was supposed to fly to Los Angeles on the way to Honolulu.

"Because I booked only a flight, I'm actually not covered under the insurance and I also used a debit card instead of a credit card, so I'm actually not eligible for a refund at all unfortunately," said West.

Thomas Cook is 178 years old. The company puts together mostly package tours combining air travel, hotels and ground transportation. Travel experts say the company made a bad decision about 10 years ago when it decided to open up travel stores in Europe.

"We all know that nobody really does that anymore, you book online there was a bad bet for Thomas Cook and they never quite recovered from it," said Brian Sumers, the aviation editor at Skift.

The company flew just twice a week from Manchester to Los Angeles. It operated out of terminal 6, but on Monday, there were no signs at the counter, and there were no passengers. Outside, there was only one sign at the curbside drop off.

West said somehow she has to get to Honolulu because she already has connecting flights from there on another airline.

"I'm going on my way home to visit my family who I haven't seen for about a year in Australia and I've already got flights booked from Australia back to England where I live normally, so for me this is already very expensive for me to fly to Australia obviously," she said.

The one bit of good news: in the U.K. there is a financial protection plan that protects most package tours sold by travel businesses.

"People are paying insurance on all the packaged travel that they buy so the government of the UK now is bringing everyone home from the United States free of charge," Sumers said.

Because of that insurance, most travelers can now rebook flights on their own or they can let the UK government figure out the arrangements to get them home.
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