Published on Monday, January 6, 2020

TUI apologises after Red Cross steps in to help stranded skiers

TUI has apologised to passengers left stranded at a ski resort in France at the weekend after bad weather caused flight cancellations.







Heavy fog over Chambery in the Alps left almost 1,000 unable to catch their flights back home.

UK passengers said TUI did not provide accommodation, so many slept at the airport.

At one point, the small airport became so over-crowded that some passengers were forced to wait in a car park for five hours in freezing temperatures.

The situation was declared an emergency and the French Red Cross stepped in to provide sleeping mats, blankets and McDonald's food. Some passengers took shelter in a local theatre.

Chambery Airport tweeted: "Dear passengers, due to bad weather conditions and for security reasons, the air traffic is disrupted, some delays must be expected. Thank you for your understanding.

"Yes it is an emergency situation but food and water are distributed and I know some McDonald's sandwiches will be distributed.

"Coaches are already bringing people to accommodation places."

The airport added: "Our teams are mobilized to assist, inform, house and refuel the nearly 1000 people who were unable to fly today at the airport because of the fog.

"Meals are delivered by our teams at the emergency accommodations for tonight."

TUI said: "We can confirm that a number of customers have been impacted following adverse and changeable weather conditions in Chambery on Saturday 4 January."

The operator apologised, adding customers were provided with food and drinks and were supported by Crystal ski reps.

A spokesman said: "We did everything we could to book coaches and hotel rooms in Chambery but due to lack of availability under exceptional circumstances, the majority of customers had to be accommodated in a local emergency shelter, where they were supported by our team of Crystal Ski reps and provided with water and refreshments."

However, the operator has told passengers that as the delay was caused by adverse weather, they are not entitled to automatic compensation under EU261 regulations. Instead they have been advised to claim on their travel insurance. 

Passengers whose flights from the UK to Chambery were delayed by up to 37 hours due to the weather were given the option to cancel with a full refund or switch to another holiday with a £50 per person incentive. Those who continued were offered pro-rata refunds of up to two days of their holiday cost.

TUI also said it would refund customers for reasonable out of pocket expenses where they have receipts.

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  • Diversions????

    We all know bad weather can cause problems, especially in a hard to access runway like CMF. It is easy to be critical and we dont know all the background, so there may be good reasons for the mess - BUT in my experience as a former Ops Manager with a major ski op there is almost always a diversion option. Of course this is costly involving additional coach journeys, additional aircraft sometimes and also (perhaps most pertinently) quick thinking by senior managers and a determination to get the pax home /out ASAP at whatever reasonable costs are needed. Feel so sorry for the poor pax messed about by the poor handling of a perfectly predictable scenario which a major Op should have plans in place for.

    By Ian Wiseman, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

  • I was directly affected

    I was one of the many unfortunate passengers affected. This article, like so many in the press on this story is not accurate. The Independent seems to have the closest version. We all accept that flights can be delayed or cancelled. The issue was how badly we were treated by Crystal/TUI. They did not look after us at all. Communication was limited, sometimes untrue e.g. we were promised a hotel for the night but ended up in the shelter. Even the poor Crystal reps were thrown under a bus by their supervisors as they suffered a lot of abuse by some passengers. There's a lot more to this of course than is here but all I can say is that I honestly have lost all faith in TUI as a company and they have no integrity. Such a shame as they are the last big player. It is a concern for us all.

    By Ross Martin, Tuesday, January 7, 2020

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