A travel firm left a widow devastated after it claimed her dead husband had in fact travelled on a flight to Spain.

The massive blunder made by Thomas Cook came after grieving Pauline Pritchard had tried to claim for compensation for a holiday she cancelled when her husband, James, became gravely ill with liver disease.

Thomas Cook at first refused a refund because it said its insurance didn't cover liver disease, then wrote to Mrs Pritchard after James had died making the extraordinary claim that compensation wasn't possible because he'd actually travelled on one of its flight to Mallorca and been refused entry.

Mrs Pritchard has described the two mistakes made by Thomas Cook as "horrendous", and described how it felt like "a sick joke".


Before James Pritchard's passing, his wife decided to call the company and explain his worsening condition meant that the couple and their 12-year-old son Callum would not be able go on a four-star Alcudia holiday they'd booked.

The 49-year-old said that Thomas Cook initially refused to refund the holiday - because their gold insurance policy did not cover liver disease.

However after a three-week long battle, it eventually apologised for the mishap and gave her a voucher refunding the booking.

But then Mrs Pritchard received the astonishing email from Thomas Cook claiming that Mr Pritchard had travelled to Palma Mallorca on one of its flights on May 21.

In fact, Mr Pritchard had died a week earlier on May 14.

In the email, Thomas Cook alleged that he was '"refused entry into the country by Border Control Authorities', and so because of this they 'aren't able to give a refund of £1,347.97."

Pauline said: "It is shocking. To make one mistake is bad enough but to make two is horrendous - especially seeing as they know what I am going through.

"They said that he was on a flight when he was lying dead in a morgue.

"There was no reason behind it, I don't understand why we would ever be refused into Spain.

"They knew my husband was dead when they wrote that voucher out - it was like some kind of sick joke."

Thomas Cook has since apologised and amended the error.

Mrs Pritchard added: "My husband and I have been using that company for ten years and I have never felt so let down.

"I don't trust them at all and will never trust another holiday company again.

"I have to fly next year with Thomas Cook because of the voucher but after that I am done.

"Not only did my son lose his dad, he lost a holiday that he was really looking forward to as well.

"These last three months have been pure hell, I can't wait to put it all behind me and look forward to taking my little man on the holiday of a lifetime next year.'

Pauline received a letter of apology from Thomas Cook, in which the spokesperson said:
"While the initial incident was human error it is certainly not good enough and understandably would have caused you great anguish.

"This service is not good enough and I will be liaising with the senior management of the area to ensure this does not happen again and the correct protocols are adhered to.

"It was and will continue to be a distressing time for you and Thomas Cook should have been helping you quickly and with compassion which I am deeply sorry for."

A second spokesperson for Thomas Cook added: "We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Mrs Pritchard and her family.

"The letter sent out to Mrs Pritchard was sent in error and we are sorry for the distress it has caused.

"We have contacted Mrs Pritchard and are working to do everything we can to resolve this fully."