Hellish Holiday Start
The short version:
Flew half way to Spain & back, then spent another 2hrs in the plane, before spending the rest of the day in the airport & then being sent to a hotel for the night. Terrible communication from Thomson Holidays [reviews].
The long version:
So I decided to take the family on a “winter sun” holiday, to Gran Canaria, and having had a previous good experience with Thomas Cook to Egypt [photo] we decided to book with them again. The package (flight & hotel) was sold via Thomson Holidays.
We got to the airport, queued with the masses for an hour to check in, cleared security & boarded the plane – all in good time for the 09:50 scheduled departure of flight TOM4338. Smooth takeoff & 2hrs into the 4hr flight the captain’s voice fills the plane & this is what he said:
“Folks, you may have noticed that the plane has been slowly turning for the last few minutes. This is due to a fault that we’ve discovered with a part of the plane that we need for flying in the dark. If we continue to Las Palmas we will be unable to return to Gatwick tonight, so for this reason we are returning to Gatwick now. We’ll endeavour to fix the problem as soon as we land & then take off immediately to complete our intended journey.”
Whether this statement was true or not is irrelevant. The collective reaction from the passengers was simply “that’s not our problem!”. Why shouldn’t we have just continued to Las Palmas & started our holiday as planned? Why should we be led to believe that Thompson put themselves before their customers? Because they do?
Now, I’m not an unreasonable man. Shit happens! But what ensued was one of the poorest customer experiences I’ve had. The problem was purely one of customer expectations & communication, or lack of.
We landed in Gatwick & were told that the necessary part had been put in a van at Heathrow an hour prior to our landing & was negotiating M25 traffic to get to us. After 2hrs of empty promises, it was conceded that further repairs were required to fix the “problem” & we were allowed off the plane & into the connections terminal where the farce worsened. The Info Desk repeatedly asked us to return in 30mins for an update.
The angry mob harangued the poor staff who were forced to deal with the pissed off party. The salt in the wound was when I called Thomson Holidays on the phone at 18:00 & was told it was unlikely the plane would depart & we’d all be ferried off to hotels for the night. The poker faced staff confirmed these facts when challenged & a mere hour later we were reunited with our luggage & back in a check-in queue for hotel allocation.
Sigh. So a night in the Sofitel @ Gatwick. Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s 09:30 flight leaves without problem & the rest of the holiday goes to plan.