Passengers on one of the final Thomas Cook flights collected two carrier bags of cash for the cabin crew, after learning when they landed that staff would not be getting paid.
During boarding, the pilot told the 300 passengers that they did not know what would happen to the company, but encouraged people to “pray for staff”.
Stephanie Kaye, 25, told the PA news agency that when the plane landed just before 8am on Monday, tearful staff discovered the company had collapsed while they had been in the air, and they had all been made redundant – effective immediately.
She said: “When we landed the pilot came on the Tannoy and said, ‘our dream has ended’ and told us the staff would probably not be getting paid for working that flight.
Flew home with @ThomasCookUK on their final flight before the very sad announcement. They found out on landing that they’d lost their jobs. Cannot fault the staff for their professionalism despite such an emotional time.
— Stephanie Kaye (@stephkaye_) September 23, 2019
“Staff had remained so professional throughout the eight-hour flight, so the passengers did a whip round for them.
“People were being really generous, stuffing rolls of cash, and leftover dollars, into two carrier bags.
“I don’t know how much cash there was, but there were two very full carrier bags.”
Staff told the passengers how overwhelmed and grateful they were for the support.
Ms Kaye said: “It was a really emotional atmosphere, even passengers were crying as they got off the flight.”
Ms Kaye said: “Everyone just felt so lucky that we had been able to get home.”
Thomas Cook ceased trading in the early hours of Monday after failing to secure a last-ditch rescue deal.
An estimated 150,000 people are being brought back to the UK by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in a flight programme costing £100m (€113m).
About 9,000 staff in the UK face redundancy.