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Holiday muckup at the airport cost me an extra £700 - Advice needed

(28 Posts)
spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 08:29:35

Recently attempted to go on holiday with dp, ds1&2 (who are 1&2!) and sd 1&2 (9&11). When we got to the airport and checked in it was manic as the belts taking the luggage were not working. However, just as we checked in they started working. When we went to go through security we only had 5 passports, not the 6 that we had handed over at checkin. Disaster! We went back from the gate to the checkin desk to be told we MUST have lost it on the walk to the gate. DP is very anal about paperwork so I know this could not have happened. After standing around for 2 hours (yes, Ds1&2 were crying, very stressful!) we eventually left to go home and resolved to go to London to get the missing passport replaced. Just as we were leaving the airline phoned and said that an engineer had found our passport down the belt, that the checkin girl must have dropped it. Not really that much good as we had now missed our flight and there were no others going to where we were going for that week. We were told to pay an extra £275 for flights to a different island that then take a ferry across. What with taxi transfer, ferry costs it ended us costing about an ectra £700, costing us 2 days of our holiday and taking 12.5 hours to get there with 4 children. At no time did a rep come and see us, we had no help at the 1st airport with transfers to the port etc.
Now to the really annoying bit..... We get home and the airline say they will not compensate as it is the responsibility of our insurance, the insurance company say as it was the airlines fault we are not covered and the holiday company are not interested either!
Any suggestions? I would like to write to the MD or CEO of each company but can't find out who they are, even on companies house website. Its thompson, Brittania and AXIA.

LIZS Tue 12-Apr-05 09:02:40

Could you contact ABTA or ATOL ? The Thomson info page is here and for after holiday comments :-

Customer Service Department
Thomson Holidays,
Greater London House,
Hampstead Road,
London NW1 7SD

Telephone:

0870 607 1642

Fax:

020 7391 0140

They should at least be able to give you the name of their CEO. However if it is the fault of Check-in staff it may come under the Airport or Handling Agent rather than the Travel Company , although that doesn't excuse their subsequent lack of attention.

Good luck

LGJ Tue 12-Apr-05 09:02:46

Have tried to google without much luck, why don't you just ring them.

There is a publication, called who owns what. but they don't appear to be onine.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 09:30:45

I agree with Liz, the airline is responsible - fully and completely - they can't just say oops, sorry, carelessness. And they shouldn't just recompense the extra cost, they should add some compensation.

Which? magazine love stories like this and they have an extra Legal Advice Service (about £9 a quarter) which will actually write letters for you, although as with a solicitor you have to pay for that too (though not as much). They will know exactly who is liable and how to contact them (I think!) and they are like a terrier with a rat when they get going.

Prettybird Tue 12-Apr-05 09:33:23

Why not try the Sunday Times money section - the guy who deals with these sort of problems (can't remember what he is called). Sounds like just the sort of buck passing that he likes to get sorted.

expatinscotland Tue 12-Apr-05 09:33:28

Have you tried complainint to an Ombudsman? That is pretty pants.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 09:34:32

TUI UK Ltd - parent company for both Thomson and Britannia I think. I will root around the website in a minute

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 09:38:38

Dear Anna in the Guardian is good too but only deals with 2 or 3 things a week.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 09:46:11

MD of TUI UK is Peter Rothwell.

I wouldn't bother with AXIA, they are not buck-passing, they are quite correct.

spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 10:01:18

thanks Janh - I have written a (rather Lengthy!) letter - want me to post for comments?

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 10:01:55

Oooh, yeah, go on!

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 10:04:53

Oh, good job you didn't send it yet, I have another one - Kevin Hatton, MD of Britannia. Send it to both.

TUI senior management

Parent company is German btw though shouldn't make any difference.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 10:05:59

And

Lee Ormesher
Operations Director

The key objective of driving customer excellence sits here. The role encompasses customer service, service to distribution, pre and post departure and all overseas operations. This ensures that the customer's experience is consistent from the moment they buy a holiday and become a customer to returning home. This supports the World of TUI masterbrand strategy and provides the customer with a consistent service.

(NB This is a laydee )

spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 10:16:18

I warn you its long, please feel free to tinker about and make it better, I've not finished or re-read yet!

To Whom It May Concern:

Firstly I would like to express how utterly appalled myself and my family are that organisations as large as yours would let a consumer down so badly. We expressly went with on our first family holiday since our young sons were born with a larger holiday company as we felt it would offer us more assurance should anything go wrong.

Let me again explain the background to my complaint; we were booked to go on holiday through Thompson Wintersun on the 22nd March 2005 to Furteventura. Our party consisted of two adults, 3 children and 1 infant (11, 9, 2 and 1 respectively). On our arrival at the airport it was in chaos as the conveyor belts that take the luggage had all broken down following a power cut, however, on our check in they began to work again. We left check in and proceeded to obtain some travel cheques, it was at this point, less than 3 minutes later that we became aware that one of passports were missing (that of our 9 year old). We immediately returned to the check in desk were the staff member who checked us told us the passport was not there, I couldn’t see how it would be anywhere else as all our documents were together, and had we lost one passport we would have lost all of them. However, we made a detailed walk to where we had been without success.

We returned to the desk and found the check in supervisor who then took us to Thompson’s desk. The supervisor said she would ask engineers to walk the belt in case the check in staff had indeed dropped the passport, and the Thompson rep suggested we go to London and get a new passport and go the following day to Manchester airport to get a flight. At no time did the rep suggest the either myself or my partner take the children with passports and the other to remain behind in order to obtain a new passport for our 9 year old and join the holiday later.

The check in supervisor returned 5 minutes later and informed us the engineer had walked the belt but had not located the missing passport, the inference was clearly that we had lost it in the walk from check in. We decided to leave the airport as our elder children were now very upset at the prospect or no holiday and the younger ones in need of a bottle. On the way home we contacted the police to inform them that our passport was lost or stolen and the passport office to see if we could have an appointment. We also contacted Thompson and spoke to a call handler named Ellie, who looked at other possible flights for us and suggested that as there were no other flights to Furteventura we should buy flights to Lanzarote for the following day and get a ferry from there to Furteventura at a cost of £275 which we did.

My partner dropped myself and the children home and proceded to London to obtain a new passport, however, when he was half way there Ellie at Thompson contact us and informed us that the passport had been found, when an engineer had walked the belt. We had been led to believe whilst at the airport that this action had already taken place, which clearly it did not.

We immediately contacted our insurance company and was informed that we had a claim, although there would be a limit on it and that limit wouldn’t cover our added costs. We also contacted Britannia airline via e-mail with our complaints outlined. On our return from holiday we received a letter from Britannia stating that they would not compensate us for our losses and that it was out insurers responsibility ( the letter was from a Terrence Extross). I then contacted our insurers and have been informed that as it was the airlines mistake and not our fault that they would not process a claim (call centre handler Ludovic Aujustin). Thompson customer services have stated that it is either the airline or the insurance that need to compensate us for our costs and compensate us for our losses

LIZS Tue 12-Apr-05 10:25:08

Nice start ! Which airport were you flying from intially as I still wonder if they are n't going to blame them for the loss of the passport. Not sure if all the check-in staff are necessarily Britannia's or the handling agents'. Attach copies of any letters, itemisation of additional costs and so on, and end by quoting back to them any Customer Satisfaction guarantees they may make in their literature !

spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 10:29:36

heres the last bit: What else should I add, tell me what to write as I am burnt out!

compensate us for our losses, which I detail below:

§ £275 for additional flights
§ £19.23 for a taxi transfer from the airport to the port
§ £19.91 for a taxi transfer from the airport to the port (no 7 seaters available)
§ £26.77 for a taxi transfer from the port to the hotel.
§ Two days of our holiday were lost at a cost of £285.09 each.

Added to this it took 12.5 hours to arrive at our destination, which I am sure you can appreciate with 2 very young children, is not acceptable. At no time did a rep contact us during our stay to see if we had arrived.

Clearly we were not at fault with this situation, and I do not see why we should have to take these additional costs on. I would appreciate it if you could look in to the matter as soon as possible and come to the same conclusion that myself, my family and friends seem to come to, that we should be recompensed for our losses and compensated for this catalogue of errors.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Blackduck Tue 12-Apr-05 10:33:18

Think you should also stress the 'distress caused' aspect of all this...it isn't (just) about the money - you were severely inconvenienced and this should be recognised.

LIZS Tue 12-Apr-05 10:37:51

Agree with Blackduck - emphasise the disappointment for kids, stress to you. Not the level of service, either during your holiday or in handling your complaint afterwards, you expect of the company which markets itself as No.1 etc.

spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 10:41:30

{grin] write it for me I have to get ready for work and still have not had breakfast or doen any cleaning that I would usually do when ds's are in bed

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 10:46:34

That's fine, sc! Send it to all 3 of the directors!

I don't think it matters whose staff were actually working on the check-in desk, you were flying with Britannia so they must take responsibility for what happened to you at the airport; if they did use an agent they can sort it out with them later.

I think you could stress more that an engineer was supposed to have checked the line at the time and didn't find it but that it turned up later - I suppose it is possible that somebody did, and that the passport wasn't visible at that point, but in any case you knew that you would not have dropped the passport and you were right.

Also stress that, as you said, one of you could have flown with the other 3 kids and saved a lot of aggravation and emotional upset as well as the loss of holiday. I would add something for the distress - a few hundred maybe?

Keep copies of everything so that you can use consumer advice services later if you need to.

Oh, and there's no P in Thomson!

LIZS Tue 12-Apr-05 10:55:03

..."why we should have to take these additional costs on"... especially given the distress the situation and altered travel arrangements have caused both our children and ourselves. We would also like to express our disappointment at the level of service offered both during our travel and holiday and in dealing with our subsequent complaint, which fell short of our expectation of a company which markets itself as No.1. ..."I would appreciate it if you could look "...

spikeycat Tue 12-Apr-05 12:57:13

Final draft - any additions? Also, Lee Ormesher - is he for britania? JANH - is this the thomson address?

Thomson Holidays,
Greater London House,
Hampstead Road,
London NW1 7SD

To Whom It May Concern:

Firstly I would like to express how utterly appalled myself and my family are that organisations as large as yours would let a consumer down so badly. We expressly went with on our first family holiday since our young sons were born with a larger holiday company as we felt it would offer us more assurance should anything go wrong.

Let me again explain the background to my complaint; we were booked to go on holiday through Thomson Wintersun on the 22nd March 2005 to Furteventura. Our party consisted of two adults, 3 children and 1 infant (11, 9, 2 and 1 respectively). On our arrival at the airport it was in chaos as the conveyor belts that take the luggage had all broken down following a power cut, however, on our check in they began to work again. We left check in and proceeded to obtain some travel cheques, it was at this point, less than 3 minutes later that we became aware that one of passports were missing (that of our 9 year old). We immediately returned to the check in desk where the staff member who checked us told us the passport was not there, I couldn’t see how it would be anywhere else as all our documents were together, and had we lost one passport we would have lost all of them. However, we made a detailed walk to where we had been without success.

We returned to the desk and found the check in supervisor who then took us to Thomson’s desk. The supervisor said she would ask engineers to walk the belt in case the check in staff had indeed dropped the passport, and the Thomson rep suggested we go to London and get a new passport and go the following day to Manchester airport to get a flight. At no time did the rep suggest the either myself or my partner take the children with passports and the other to remain behind in order to obtain a new passport for our 9 year old and join the holiday later.

The check in supervisor returned 5 minutes later and informed us the engineer had walked the belt but had not located the missing passport, the inference was clearly that we had lost it in the walk from check in. We decided to leave the airport as our elder children were now very upset at the prospect or no holiday and the younger ones in need of a bottle. On the way home we contacted the police to inform them that our passport was lost or stolen and the passport office to see if we could have an appointment. We also contacted Thomson and spoke to a call handler named Ellie, who looked at other possible flights for us and suggested that as there were no other flights to Furteventura we should buy flights to Lanzarote for the following day and get a ferry from there to Furteventura at a cost of £275 which we did.

My partner dropped myself and the children home and proceded to London to obtain a new passport, however, when he was half way there Ellie at Thomson contact us and informed us that the passport had been found, when an engineer had walked the belt. We had been led to believe whilst at the airport that this action had already taken place, which clearly it did not.

We immediately contacted our insurance company and were informed that we had a claim, although there would be a limit on it and that limit wouldn’t cover our added costs. We also contacted Britannia airline via e-mail with our complaints outlined. On our return from holiday we received a letter from Britannia stating that they would not compensate us for our losses and that it was out insurers responsibility (the letter was from a Terrence Extross). I then contacted our insurers and have been informed that as it was the airlines mistake and not our fault that they would not process a claim (call centre handler Ludovic Aujustin). Thomson customer services have stated that it is either the airline or the insurance that need to compensate us for our costs and compensate us for our losses, which I detail below:

§ £275 for additional flights
§ £19.23 for a taxi transfer from the airport to the port
§ £19.91 for a taxi transfer from the airport to the port (no 7 seaters available)
§ £26.77 for a taxi transfer from the port to the hotel.
§ Two days of our holiday were lost at a cost of £285.09 each.

Added to this it took 12.5 hours to arrive at our destination, which I am sure you can appreciate with 2 very young children, is not acceptable. At no time did a rep contact us during our stay to see if we had arrived.

Clearly we were not at fault with this situation, and I do not see why we should have to take these additional costs on, especially given the distress the situation and altered travel arrangements have caused both our children and ourselves. We would also like to express our disappointment at the level of service offered both during our travel and holiday and in dealing with our subsequent complaint, which fell short of our expectation of a company, which markets itself as No.1.

I would appreciate it if you could look in to the matter as soon as possible and come to the same conclusion that family, friends and myself have come to, that we should be recompensed for our losses and compensated for this catalogue of errors that have caused myself and my family, on what was to be our first holiday together since the birth of our sons, such distress.

I look forward to hearing from you.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 14:19:26

eek, hope you haven't sent it yet, sc - as I mentioned Lee is a laydee! And she is TUI UK Operations Director:

<<The key objective of driving customer excellence sits here. The role encompasses customer service, service to distribution, pre and post departure and all overseas operations. This ensures that the customer's experience is consistent from the moment they buy a holiday and become a customer to returning home. This supports the World of TUI masterbrand strategy and provides the customer with a consistent service.>>

(insert ironic icon here!)

TUI Directors are all on this page . Britannia bloke is:

Kevin Hatton
Managing Director, Britannia Airways and
Chief Executive Officer, TUI Airline Management

Britannia Airways address is:

Britannia Airways Ltd
Britannia House
London Luton Airport
Beds LU2 9ND

Thomson Holidays address is the one you have.

As well as sending hard copies to all three you could also send emails with "FAO Director's name" in the subject line. Britannia's email contact page is here . I would send it as a General Enquiry so that you get a Subject line to put Kevin Hatton's name in - there is also a specific Customer Relations form to use but that asks for all your flight details etc and doesn't have a subject box.

Haven't come across an email address for TUI UK as such, will look for one for Thomson Holidays.

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 14:27:34

Can't find an email address for TUI or Thomson . But do email the Britannia bloke.

However have got a geographic number instead of that 0870 one : 020 738 9321.

And I just added up your extra expenses and they come to £900 . The problem was created by them, not you, so they should cough up, I don't see how they can argue it (except that I expect some people would take no for an answer in the first place and grumble, but not pursue it; so they must save some money that way).

JanH Tue 12-Apr-05 14:30:18

Oops - 0207 387 9321 - not what I put before.

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