An elderly couple from Dorset have instructed Bott and Co to help secure compensation from TUI Airways after their flight home from a week-long holiday in Paphos was delayed for over 24 hours.
Tim Lunn, 70, and Susan, 72, had enjoyed a holiday in Cyprus and were due to fly home to Bournemouth on Wednesday 13 March. But Tim describes how it ended badly when a mechanical fault with their plane left them stranded with inadequate information and poor assistance from the airline. He had also run out of medication, causing some stress.
TUI told passengers that the delay was due to a mechanical fault brought about after the aircraft had been struck by lightning the previous day. The problem was, it took the airlines in excess of 24 hours to fix and only minimal information was provided to passengers to keep them informed.
The couple have instructed us to help claim compensation for their delay. We believe the couple are entitled to 400 Euros each under EU Regulation 261/2004 as the airline should have had measures in place to ensure the passengers could still fly home on the day in question. Given that TUI had been aware of the fault since the previous day, they could have had plans in place to meet the needs of the waiting passengers.
Chasing TUI for information
Scheduled to depart at 6.05pm, Tim and Susan were expecting to see the boarding gate announcement around 5.00pm, but this never came. Suddenly, their flight disappeared from the board altogether and with no communication from the airline, Tim and another passenger decided to go in search of answers.
Tim said: “We were all beginning to get a bit concerned. It got to past 6pm and there were no TUI staff anywhere to be seen airside. We were more or less left stranded and just hoping for information but there was none. We eventually found a handling agent who told us that our flight was delayed due to a mechanical fault. The very moment he told us there was a delay, we should have been taking off.
The stress involved in this saga cannot be underestimated
I asked when they were planning to tell us and he said he would be making an announcement in 20 minutes. That announcement never came. It got close to 7pm and I asked where the announcement was and he said they were still trying to fix the plane. I couldn’t believe that we were all left waiting when TUI was apparently aware of the mechanical fault when the plane landed in Paphos on the morning of 13/3, yet were still trying to fix it on the evening of 14/3.”
At 9pm, a TUI representative appeared and announced that there would be a night stop over for their flight and that departure would be the following day – Thursday 14 March.
Passengers were sent to collect their luggage and wait outside for buses to take them to a hotel.
Tim said, “This is when the stress started for us…”
Medication sure to run out
“The stress involved in this saga cannot be underestimated. We’re both in our 70s and the continued dragging of luggage on and off coaches and repeated checking in arrangements was all unprecedented, and totally spoilt what until then had been a pleasant break.”
“The worry of only having enough medication to last until that evening was also a major concern.”
The following day, passengers went to reception for information at 9.30am and were told that TUI was hopeful that the plane would be fixed that afternoon. They were to be collected from the hotel at 1.30pm but the bus was late picking them up, eventually at 2.15pm.
“Due to the late pickup, we missed the slot for a 5.20pm departure. Again, once airside, TUI representatives deserted us and were left with no reliable information about our flight.”
They eventually boarded the flight at 6.15pm and got back to Bournemouth at 9.15pm, 24 hours and 9 minutes later than planned.
Instructing solicitors to take the hassle out of claiming
Once on home turf, all passengers were given a letter from TUI apologising for the delay and explaining it was due to a lightning strike and that they could claim compensation through their travel insurers. However there was no mention of EU Regulation 261 and the airline having to pay compensation.
I didn’t go to the airline direct as I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the claim ourselves.
“TUI had 24 hours to fix the plane or organise a new one. It was a big inconvenience and once home, we couldn’t face any more stress.
I didn’t go to the airline direct as I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the claim ourselves. We didn’t go through our insurance as another couple we met during the ordeal had suggested we wouldn’t get compensated. So I decided to Google ‘flight delay compensation’ and found Bott and Co.
More needs to be done
Tim and Susan feel more needs to be done by the airline to minimise delays and make them more bearable for passengers.
“We understand that lightning strikes are uncontrollable but the most stressful part was TUI’s lack of information and the fact they could have fixed the plane sooner. We were sent to a hotel and had to carry our luggage around, which isn’t as easy when you get older. It was an experience we would have rather not had.
We are definitely going to be more wary if the gate doesn’t appear on the board. But once airside, there are no representatives and you really are on your own and have no hope of getting any information. The airline only tells you what they want you to know, which is not a lot!
Many passengers are unaware that they may be able to claim if they suffer a delay after a lightning strike. A Judge ruled in 2016 that lightning strikes are not a valid excuse for airlines to avoid paying flight delay compensation.
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*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.