A Tui passenger has described a “flight from hell” with the airline, during which she claims the plane was delayed before departure, “bounced hard off the ground” on arrival into the UK and was diverted to another airport – adding 10 hours to her journey home.
The incident ended in chaos at Birmingham Airport, as passengers were held onboard for two hours, one woman on the plane went into labour, and police boarded the aircraft to deal with furious customers.
Naomii Thomas, from Cardiff, was checking in for a flight from Cape Verde to Bristol Airport on flight TOM245, on 7 June, when the problems began.
Ms Thomas told Wales Online: “Initially the flight to Bristol was delayed by two hours and 45 minutes. We asked if we could stay in the hotel because it would mean avoiding a six-hour wait at Cape Verde Airport, but they said no and gave us a voucher worth €5.
“The airport was manic due to delays. It’s only small and because we were all there earlier than we really needed to be the queues were huge. It was an absolute nightmare.”
She alleges that staff were short with customers from the minute they boarded, saying that the crew had worked beyond its usual hours in what she describes as a bid to warn them “not to be difficult”.
“When we boarded the plane the pilot spoke to us immediately, and he said because he would try to get us back to Bristol with as little delay as possible the plane hadn’t been stocked with any food,” says Ms Thomas.
“He then said the airline staff had volunteered to work over their hours, and that they were very tired. Essentially telling us not to be difficult.”
There appeared to be a rush to get off the ground in the hopes of beating the three-hour delay window after which airlines owe their customers cash compensation, Ms Thomas claims.
“We met a lot of people out there who were actually in credit from their holiday because of delays. One family of five from Barry had paid £1,900 for the holiday and received £2,500 on the way out and then again on the way back.
“The pilot told us he would be taking a shortcut. The moment we hit the ground in Bristol we were on two hours and 55 minutes.”
However, she claims she felt something wasn’t right about the way the aircraft landed in Bristol – a feeling that was heightened when the plane then took off again immediately for a different UK airport.
Ms Thomas alleges that the Tui pilot informed customers that because they had taken a shortcut, not enough fuel had been used and the plane was too heavy to land. Tui denies this and attributes the decision not to land to bad weather conditions.
“We hit the floor really harshly, like a crash landing, and then literally about a second later we were straight back up again,” she continues.
“I’m quite used to travelling so I know that sometimes you can hit the ground and it can be quite rough, but this was a noticeable bump and I didn’t feel safe when we went back up again.
“You could see everyone was starting to panic then. The guy in front was having a panic attack, the lady behind us was asking her husband whether he thought the plane was safe.”
The aircraft diverted to Birmingham, where Ms Thomas says it sat stationary on the tarmac for two hours. She describes her fellow passengers as “arguing” and “kicking off” due to the multiple delays and aborted landing incident.
The frustrated passengers were so aggravated that police had to board the plane and deal with them, she adds – and that was before a woman went into labour while still on the aircraft.
“My understanding is all the planes scheduled to be dealt with in Birmingham would be priority and we weren’t because we were already delayed considerably,” claims Ms Thomas.
“People started kicking off and the police were called on. One family started arguing with another, I don’t know what about exactly – but one of them got escorted off by the police and some of the police stuck around after that.
“A woman then went into labour and they called paramedics onboard. Unbelievably, one of the women escorted off the plane minutes before was actually an A&E nurse.
“Eventually [Tui staff] let us off the plane and we went through to baggage reclaim where we were waiting for another two and a half hours. We had to wait for three flights to be unloaded before we had our turn and we were continuously being put to the back of the queue.”
By the time she got home to Cardiff, Ms Thomas says, 10 hours had been added to their journey, with the whole experience having lasted around 20 hours door to door.
“It has made me cross. It’s poor planning, bad management, and taking people’s money with no regard for providing an expected level of quality in return,” she says.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve been put off flying. But I have reservations about flying with Tui,” she added.
A spokesperson for TUI insisted that the aborted landing at Bristol was due to “weather conditions”.
They said: “We can confirm that TOM245 from Sal, Cape Verde, to Bristol was diverted to Birmingham on 7 June due to weather conditions at Bristol Airport. Our crew offered all possible support during the flight before everyone was safely disembarked.
“We’d like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers onboard. The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is always our highest priority and we’d like to thank passengers for their patience and understanding.”
Source Link Aborted landing, diversion, a 10-hour delay and a woman in labour: Tui passenger describes ‘flight from hell’