Northern Ireland customers still in limbo over Thomas Cook refunds
A Co Down couple are among thousands of Thomas Cook customers still waiting on money back for cancelled holidays.
Around one in three of the first customers to claim refunds will not be paid within the 60-day target, according to the aviation regulator.
Over 22,000 people who submitted their online forms on the first day of the Atol refund programme cannot be paid until they provide additional information, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said.
The scheme was launched on October 7 and the CAA initially aimed to pay all valid claims within yesterday's target date.
Thomas Cook collapsed on September 23, putting 9,000 UK jobs at risks and disrupting the travel plans of one million holidaymakers with future bookings.
Around 140,000 passengers already overseas were brought home by the CAA over two weeks.
But many more are still out of pocket for holidays cancelled following the travel firm's collapse.
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Among them are Virginia Palmer (50) and her husband Frank (46), from Carrowdore, who were due to travel to Portugal today after booking with Thomas Cook two weeks before its demise.
She is due to receive £592 in compensation for five days in Albufeira.
"We're just getting knocked from pillar to post and I'm so frustrated and angry," Virginia said.
"I have made around half a dozen calls to the CAA over three weeks but I'm being told different information each time.
"I appreciate that there are many other people waiting for a lot more money back than us but I just don't understand why we're being left in limbo."
Kevin Pearson (34), from Carryduff, had booked a holiday in Spain with the firm at a cost of just under £1,000.
He and a friend were due to fly to Salou for a week two days after the firm's collapse but Kevin has heard nothing from the CAA since submitting his claim.
"We booked the holiday back in June and it was to be our only one this year," he said.
"It would be good to get the money back in time for Christmas. I know there are a lot of people's claims to deal with but the silence is a bit scary."
The CAA yesterday insisted it wants to issue refunds "as soon as possible" and urged claimants to check their email junk and spam folders if they don't hear anything by the en d of the week.
Two-thirds of the 67,000 legitimate claims made on the first day will be paid "by the weekend", according to the CAA.
An additional 90,000 direct debit customers were refunded in October, meaning the amount refunded so far is nearly £160m.
Customers have until next September to submit the online form.