Big-hearted Scottish woman sparks £5000 whip round for Thomas Cook crew on board flight

Ashleigh MacLennan was on board one of the last ever Thomas Cook flights. Picture: Getty Images (left) Contributed (right)
Ashleigh MacLennan was on board one of the last ever Thomas Cook flights. Picture: Getty Images (left) Contributed (right)
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A big-hearted Glasgow woman initiated a £5000 whip round on board one of the last ever Thomas Cook flights after tearful cabin crew announced they had lost their jobs.

Ashleigh MacLennan, 31, was travelling on board the 13:55 Las Vegas to Manchester flight on Monday when crew announced to passengers that the 178-year-old travel firm had ceased trading.

As distraught flight staff revealed they wouldn't be getting paid for their final flight, the quick-thinking Glaswegian decided to take action and prompted a collection for the tearful crew.

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She told The Scotsman: "The crew explained as we were taking off that there was some uncertainty with regards to the airline and were very emotional.

"Towards the end of the flight the crew updated the passengers that Thomas cook had in fact ceased trading in the early hours of the morning. The captain them came on to thank the crew and explain that they wouldn’t be paid.

"I took two of the Thomas Cook pillow cases and wrote on them 'Whip round for our amazing crew'. I sent one to the front of the plane and one to the back and everyone happily contributed."

While Ashleigh is unsure how much money passengers managed to raise, she said both pillow cases were packed full with notes.

Tommy Laing, a fellow passenger, took to social media shortly after the flight landed to share the story of the act of kindness. He reckons there was around £5000 worth of pounds and dollars filling the pillow cases.

READ MORE: Airlines accused of 'greed' after prices soar following Thomas Cook collapse

In a Facebook post, that has since gone viral, he wrote: "The staff told us mid-flight that we were on the last Thomas Cook flight anywhere, they had just lost their jobs and would not be getting paid this month - they were all in tears.

"Soon as we landed a Scottish girl stands up - right folks I'm having a whip round get your money out £20 each. And if that's not the most Scottish thing ever I don't know what is. Was a joyful moment. Got £5000 apparently."

A video clip has surfaced showing an emotional Thomas Cook crew member thanking the passengers for their incredible generosity.

Similar scenes played out on other Thomas Cook flights throughout Monday, with passengers on another Thomas Cook flight from Orlando praised after they too organised a mid-flight whip round.

Ashleigh, who had travelled to Las Vegas with family to celebrate her brother's wedding, said the firm's sudden collapse - while forewarned - had come as a bit of a shock. She said the reaction from staff as the news filtered through was "heart-breaking to see".

She added: "It was when the pilot announced that this amazing crew would not then be getting paid for the flight I felt it was only right that we showed our appreciation. When the manager received the bags she was crying and hugged me so tight. They were so grateful and made an emotional thank you to everyone."

One of the world's oldest and largest travel companies, Thomas Cook was established in 1841 by a cabinet maker who organised a day trip for temperance movement supporters.

The company ceased trading in the early hours of Monday morning after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.

As of this year the group employed 21,000 people in 16 countries, operated 105 aircraft and 200 own-brand hotels and resorts.

The firm's collapse has sparked the launch of the UK's largest peacetime repatriation, with an estimated 150,000 tourists being brought home by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a flight programme costing £100 million.

Holidaymakers already abroad will be flown home as close as possible to their original return time and date.

All future Thomas Cook bookings have been cancelled, affecting around one million people.

Thomas Cook customers are advised to visit the CAA's dedicated website, thomascook.caa.co.uk, for more information about what they should do next.