Michelle, a PA, and her husband Nicholas, a locksmith, were travelling from Kefalonia Airport to London Gatwick Airport with their seven year old daughter last summer when they experienced a hugely disruptive flight delay at the hands of Thomas Cook.
The family faced a nightmare 10 hour delay at the hands of the airline. After an initial delay of five hours at Kefalonia Airport with no care and assistance delivered by the airline, the family’s journey home was further thrown into chaos as they were diverted to Belgium 45 minutes before landing due to the cabin crew having worked to their maximum working hours.
Since returning home, Michelle tried three times to claim flight delay compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004, by phone, letter and email, but each time Thomas Cook refused her request, citing “adverse weather conditions” as the reason for the delay, something Michelle doesn’t believe as she saw many other flights taking off that day.
Frustrated at coming to a standstill with the airline, Michelle approached Bott and Co for help in claiming flight delay compensation, who were successful in securing 400 Euros each for Michelle, Nicholas and their daughter for the irreversible loss of time and the inconvenience suffered.
A Stifling Five Hour Wait At Kefalonia Airport With No Thomas Cook Reps In Sight
Michelle says that the reasons for the delay were unclear, especially as there was not a single Thomas Cook representative available to give the stranded passengers advice. Explaining everyone’s discomfort, Michelle says,
“The airport was beyond boiling. The queues for assistance seemed to stretch for miles and there were no Thomas Cook representatives about. The most help we got was from the departure screens board! We had to constantly keep checking.”
Adding that the airline completely neglected to fulfil their duty to provide care and assistance during their lengthy delay, Michelle admits that bottled water actually came from rival airline easyJet.
Thomas Cook couldn’t have cared less about us. We were gasping for a drink along with our young daughter, and in the end easyJet helped us out. It was embarrassing
After exploring other options, including even landing in a different airport to get home earlier, it became clear just how badly organised Thomas Cook was. Michelle says “We looked at flying to an alternate airport in order to get home quicker, but flights to Manchester were delayed even more than us, we couldn’t believe it.”
Finally On Board – But Not To The Intended Destination
After five long hours of waiting, they were finally up and away en route to London Gatwick. But 45 minutes from landing at Gatwick, there was an announcement that the cabin crew had fulfilled their maximum hours allowed for being on duty, and that they would have to divert to Belgium.
To make matters worse, Thomas Cook had originally promised the delayed and tired passengers that they would only be waiting in Belgium for an hour or so, when in actual fact there was a delay of three hours. During this time, Michelle spent €50 on food and drink for her family, which she says Thomas Cook offered to reimburse, but the refund never materialised.
The flight attendants that had worked to their maximum allowed capacity were then actually passengers with Michelle and everyone else from Belgium back to London. The family was supposed to land at London Gatwick at 5pm, but didn’t actually arrive in London until gone midnight the next day, 18th July.
While flying, it looked like the end of the upheaval was finally in sight, but it wasn’t meant to be
As a result of the unforeseen circumstances, Michelle and Nicholas lost battery on their phones and were unable to contact their taxi driver who was waiting at arrivals for them. When they finally landed, they managed to get in touch with him but had to pay him double the fare due to him having to make the journey twice; this was yet another unnecessary £25 spent thanks to Thomas Cook’s incompetence.
Once, Twice, Three Times Ignored By Thomas Cook
“I would never book with Thomas Cook again. It was an example in how not to deliver customer service – because there was none. It was my second awful experience with the airline.”
Michelle says that when getting in contact with Thomas Cook, the airline stated that they didn’t feel a claim for flight delay compensation was fair, as their explanation was adverse weather conditions. When Michelle challenged this, querying why other flights were taking off, the airline ignored her.
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation at Bott and Co says, “Michelle and her family should never have experienced such a long delay. Thomas Cook had a duty to keep passengers updated about the status of the flight but neglected to do so, along with failing to provide care and assistance in the form of food and drinks vouchers.
“Cases like Michelle’s show how passengers shouldn’t feel obliged to accept the airline’s excuse straight away, as often under EU Regulation 261/2004 people can make a claim. We’re pleased we could hold Thomas Cook accountable and fight for what this family was owed.”
After reaching a brick wall when trying to claim flight delay compensation, Michelle says that she approached Bott and Co for help intervening in her situation. Michelle says, “I found Bott and Co and thought, ‘Why not, I’ll give it a go’. I have been really impressed by Bott and Co; and I chose them because they came highly recommended. They’ve been really helpful in securing €1200, which I’m sure we wouldn’t have received if we had just given up.”