What Happens When a Major Travel Company Goes out of Business?

In 2019, we saw news coverage out of the United Kingdom detailing the collapse of iconic airline and tour operator Thomas Cook. The company shut its doors, impacting the travel plans of 600,000 people and left 150,000 passengers stranded in destinations around Europe, the Caribbean and the U.S.

The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority undertook the massive operation of bringing stranded passengers home. But what did it mean for Ontarians?

Did you know that Ontarians are protected?

In Ontario, there is an Industry Travel Compensation Fund, which exists to help passengers who are impacted by the failure of an Ontario travel agency or website, Ontario tour operator or any airline or cruise line.

How do I get protected?

The key thing consumers need to know is that to receive the protection of the Compensation Fund, travel must have been purchased from a TICO-registered travel agency or website. By purchasing from a TICO-registered travel agency or website, you are automatically covered.

Any travel agency or website operating from Ontario, meaning they have a physical presence here, needs to be registered with TICO. To double check if a company is registered, visit our online directory.

What does the Compensation Fund cover?

The Compensation Fund covers up to $5,000 per passenger for travel services that were not received because of the failure of an Ontario travel agency or website, Ontario tour operator or any airline or cruise line. There are certain caps on how much can be paid out for the entire failure.

What if passengers are stranded in destination?

If the failure is due to an Ontario travel agency, website or tour operator, and passengers are stranded in destination, TICO will work to bring those passengers home.

What about Ontarians impacted by Thomas Cook?

The Compensation Fund provides coverage to those who purchased airfare on Thomas Cook through a TICO-registered travel agency or website and didn’t receive the service they paid for. To learn more about the claim process, click here.

How can consumers protect themselves?

As Ontarians, we are fortunate to live in one of three provinces, including Quebec and British Columbia, that offers consumer protection for travel services.

Don’t give up the consumer protection you’re entitled to – book your travel through a TICO-registered travel agency or website. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and provides added peace of mind should something go wrong. Be sure to look for the TICO logo and registration number, or double check their registration through our online directory.

Book with a TICO Registered Travel Agency 

To verify if a travel agency or website is TICO registered, check our online directory.  

Take the TICO Traveller Quiz to see what type of traveller you are.  

Sign up to receive quarterly travel consumer protection email updates

For more travel tips and information, visit the Smart Traveller Guide.  

All travel agencies and websites located and operating in Ontario are regulated by TICO. Registered travel agencies and websites provide additional consumer protection for your travel investment that may not be available when booking with travel agencies and websites based in other countries or provinces. For more information about how TICO helps, click here.  

Any questions can be directed to tico@tico.ca or 1-888-451-TICO (8426).