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Photos: What happens when 150,000 vacations are cancelled at once

Johnny Simon

The British tour company Thomas Cook suddenly shut down over the weekend, stranding more than 150,000 travelers on their overseas vacations. Long lines of disgruntled tourists formed in airports in Greece, Turkey, Mallorca and other destinations as Thomas Cook customers now try to return home in the biggest repatriation effort since World War II.

The Guardian has kept a log on the unfolding chaos, reporting on wedding plans thrown into disarray, aircrews bidding their customs adieu for the final time, and more tales of people just trying to get home.

Photos from today (Sept. 23) and the weekend showcase the startling collapse of Thomas Cook, which was a fixture of British tourism for 180 years. In addition to scenes of airports flooded with upset tourists, photographers captured company outposts after thousands of employees were laid off with seemingly little notice. On streets across Britain, Thomas Cook storefronts and airport check-in desks were left shuttered and empty.

The closed Thomas Cook check-in desks are at the South Terminal of London Gatwick Airport on Sept. 23.

The closed Thomas Cook check-in desks are at the South Terminal of London Gatwick Airport on Sept. 23.

Tourists wait at a Thomas Cook company counter at Heraklion airport on the island of Crete on Sept. 23.

Tourists wait at a Thomas Cook company counter at Heraklion airport on the island of Crete on Sept. 23.

British passengers with Thomas Cook wait in long queue at Antalya airport in Antalya, Turkey on Sept. 23

Passengers of British travel group Thomas Cook queue at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca on Sept. 23, 2019.

Passengers of British travel group Thomas Cook queue at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca on Sept. 23, 2019.

British passengers wait for news on cancelled Thomas Cook flights at Palma de Mallorca airport on Sept. 23

British passengers wait for news on cancelled Thomas Cook flights at Palma de Mallorca airport on Sept. 23

British Government officials gather before talking to passengers of British travel group Thomas Cook at Son Sant Joan airport in Palma de Mallorca on Sept. 23, 2019.

British tourists flying with Thomas Cook queue at the Enfidha International Airport in Tunisia on Sept. 23

British tourists flying with Thomas Cook queue at the Enfidha International Airport in Tunisia on Sept. 23

A man looking at a closed branch of a Thomas Cook travel agent’s shop in Montpelier, France.

Thomas Cook

Workers exit the Thomas Cook Headquarters on Sept. 23, 2019 in Peterborough, United Kingdom.

A closed Thomas Cook travel shop in London, Monday, Sept. 23.

 

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