Over 150,000 British citizens were left stranded abroad after Thomas Cook Group, one of the world’s oldest travel agencies, went into liquidation on September 23, 2019. Over 21,000 people lost their jobs overnight, and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority had to fly back tens of thousands of disgruntled British tourists via chartered flights cobbled together from over 60 different airlines. It even had a code name: Operation Matterhorn. Thomas Cook had been in operation since 1841, when its founder started arranging single-day rail excursions for temperance supporters in rural England. It eventually became a national institution, arranging holidays for millions of middle-class Britons over the decades. Recently the company had tried to diversify into online booking and airlines, but it was too little, too late. People just weren’t using travel agents anymore. A 178-year-old company vanished overnight. As it turns out, the travel industry had plenty of systemic problems even before COVID arrived.