A British tourist has told Express.co.uk how a bad experience on a TUI holiday in Italy has put him off “holidaying abroad”.
Phil, from Oxford, travelled to Sicily with his family for a one week half-board summer holiday with TUI in July. The family were due to return to the UK on July 17, flying on an easyJet flight arranged by TUI from Catania Airport.
However, the family’s relaxing break was thrown into chaos when their flight home was cancelled. Phil says the TUI rep initially had no idea why this was.
It turned out a fire at Catania Airport had caused multiple flight cancellations, leaving 8,000 passengers grounded.
Phil told Express.co.uk: “At the time, we felt the onus was very much on us to arrange extra accommodation and flights back.
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“In fact TUI told us to arrange the flight ourselves with the airline about six hours after being notified the flight was cancelled. Problem was that nobody in the resort from TUI seemed to know what was going on.”
While TUI did pay for the family to spend another night in their hotel, the family had to spend July 17 negotiating this.
Phil said: “While we had an ‘extra’ day of holiday, we spent it quite stressed trying to confirm somewhere to stay for the night and book return flights. Certainly was not relaxing!”
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After spending more time on the phone with easyJet, the family were offered a flight home on Brussels Airlines for July 18.
However, this flight left from Palermo meaning the family had to take a three hour transfer in 40 degree heat from their hotel. The new flight also stopped in Brussels and landed at Heathrow Airport, despite the family car having been left at Gatwick.
Luckily, one of Phil’s friends was able to pick him up and drive him to Gatwick to pick up the car but the entire journey home took the family a whopping 17 hours.
Despite the family informing TUI of their alternative flights home, the holiday company contacted them on July 20 and 21 to say it was trying to arrange flights for them.
Phil told Express.co.uk: “TUI were good in that the delays have not cost me any money so in that respect that is the advantage of booking a package holiday, it’s their responsibility. However the poor communication was disappointing, as was the fact they still thought we were in the country when we had in fact returned to the UK three days earlier.
“I am afraid the experience has put me off holidaying abroad, certainly by air. Even when flights are apparently operating normally there is overcrowding at airports where you can’t find seats to sit, queues are huge to buy overpriced food, flights are frequently delayed due to air traffic control etc.
“There just seems to be no spare capacity in the system so at best air travel is just grim, at worst it is a complete nightmare. Staycations are looking more and more appealing!”
A TUI spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “We’re sorry to hear that Mr Weaver and his family were impacted by the airport closure due to the local fires in Sicily.
“When flights were cancelled we contacted all customers to provide them with further accommodation and kept in contact with Mr Weaver throughout. When we had arranged a flight back to the UK we contacted Mr Weaver and his family, but they had already chosen to make their own way home.
“We work hard to ensure customers have the best possible holiday experience and will always help customers return home if their holiday has been impacted.”
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