Saturday, 12 April 2008

Thomas Cook Airlines Flight Delay: Pilot Caught In Traffic

I'm home at last. The vacation began with a somewhat shaky start, my taxi failing to turn up in time to take me into Belfast. Now it's Thomas Cook's turn for some flack from me. My flight yesterday, from Tenerife airport, took off on time. The confounded nuisance was that it stopped en route at Bristol. In my experience it's unusual to share a flight like this, with about a hundred and fifty passengers from Bristol and thirty from Belfast.

As I mentioned earlier, the flight left on time from Tenerife and landed at Bristol about four hours later. The Bristol passengers disembarked; we were told that the plane would take off forty-five minutes later. Some moments after this announcement, they dropped the bombshell (a favourite Topgear catchphrase): the Captain was caught in traffic on his way from Gatwick and we would not be leaving for another two hours! We were considerably unhappy about this utterance from Thomas Cook, I can tell you. There were gasps and shock from most quarters. What's more, the First Officer was caught in traffic too.

Let's do a spot of role reversal: if a passenger turned up too late for check-in, explaining that they were delayed due to traffic conditions, would Thomas Cook Airlines find this reason acceptable? Or would they tell the passenger that it was the passenger's responsibility to turn up on time? Is it any more acceptable for a pilot to delay a flight because he'd been caught in traffic?

There'll be a few irate letters landing on Thomas Cook's desks next week. Personally, I feel it would be a waste of time and energy, although I've sent them a complaint by email today.

We, the stoic Belfast passengers, received a verbal apology from the Captain on the aircraft. Oh, and a little cup of coffee too.

Our flight finally landed at eight-twenty in Belfast, having been on the plane since one o'clock. I managed to get the air bus at eight-forty; and the train at nine-thirty, so I arrived home at five past ten, safe and sound as the expression goes.

No comments :