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Wednesday, 3 October, 2001, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Q&A: Booked on Swissair?

Swissair has run out of cash and has suspended all its flights for the foreseeable future, leaving 19,000 passengers stranded at airports around Europe and beyond on Tuesday night. But the situation is unclear. Although there are guidelines if airlines go bust, what happens in this situation?

Will Swissair compensate me?

Swissair has said that it is not in a position to compensate travellers at this stage.

If you are stranded and can not get on a Swissair flight, you should ask other airline carriers to see if they have any spare seats.

According to Sean Tipton of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), airlines often help out in these situations.

Mr Tipton says: "What often happens is other airlines will step in and honour tickets free of charge. They do not have to do it, but it's good public relations and good for the aviation industry."

Ask at the check-in desk or phone another carrier to see if they are willing to help you.

Will my travel insurance policy cover me?

Your travel insurance policy may cover you if it covers "scheduled airline failure".

However, many policies contain an exclusion clause which means that if disruption has been caused because of a "fault of the transport provider", you will not get compensation.

Alternatively, you should check your ticket to see if it offers any other protection in this situation.

Check your documents and contact the insurer or agent for more details.

Am I covered elsewhere?

If you booked your air ticket with the airline direct and it went bust, you would not be protected by the "Air Travel Organisers' Licensing" - ATOL for short.

However, if you are flying with an airline as part of a holiday package that was booked through a UK operator with ATOL membership and your flight is cancelled, you would be covered.

The tour operator should then give you an alternative deal or a full refund.

You should check with ATOL or your tour operator to see if you can be compensated.

Call the tour operator or travel agent that you booked your package through.

For details on ATOL membership, contact the helpline on 020 7453 6424.

I booked my flight on a credit card. Can I claim from my credit-card company?

If an airline goes out of business and you paid for your flight with a credit card, you might be able to claim from the lender.

This applies to goods or services costing more than 100 for one item, even if you only pay a deposit.

If you have a claim against the seller because the seller goes out of business, you my have a claim against the credit card company.

However, Swissair has not gone out of business: it is merely having financial difficulties.

Check with the credit company to see if you would be covered in this scenario.

See also:

02 Oct 01 | Business
Swissair grounds all flights
02 Oct 01 | Business
Q&A: Swissair in crisis
02 Oct 01 | Europe
Swissair passengers stranded
02 Oct 01 | Business
Airline collapse dents Swiss pride
02 Oct 01 | Business
Swissair accepts rescue plan
30 Aug 01 | Business
Swissair cuts 1,250 jobs
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