Holiday flight's 14-hour delay angers passengers

 

TEMPERS FLARED when a holiday flight from the Spanish island of Majorca to Shannon was delayed by more than 14 hours yesterday after the flight’s first officer fell ill shortly before take-off and a replacement co-pilot could not be found.

Thomson Fly flight TOM-1281, operating on behalf of Falcon Holidays, was due to leave Palma De Majorca airport at 11.50am local time yesterday and was expected in Shannon at 1.35pm.

However, as passengers queued to check in, they were informed that the service had been delayed. Many passengers had been in the airport for up to three hours at this point.

It is understood that the co-pilot fell ill in Majorca and that the airline was unable to source a replacement locally. The company then tried to source a co-pilot in the UK. However, that also proved to be difficult.

Passengers were originally told that the delay would only be for 40 minutes. However, later they were told their flight would not leave until 5.10pm.

They were also told that a flight was being sent from Dublin for them. However, on arrival in Palma, that aircraft was used to take Belfast-bound passengers home after they had been delayed by several hours.

Passengers due to fly from Shannon were also affected when their outbound flight from Shannon was also delayed. The flight was due to depart at 2.55pm.

However, it did not leave Shannon until after 8.30pm after an aircraft was sent from Manchester.

Meanwhile in Majorca, passengers were beginning to feel the pressure and became frustrated. One passenger set up an ad-hoc committee with the intention of seeking out a Thomson representative and getting an explanation for the delay.

One passenger, who did not want to be named, said: “It was a bit of a pain alright but when one man set up a bit of a committee with the intention of having a go at the first Thomson rep he met, I was disgusted.

“They went over and found two poor girls and gave them hell. It was terrible and especially in front of the kids. One man was using bad language and roaring and shouting.”

Another passenger, Paul Slattery from Co Clare, who was travelling with his wife and two children, said: “These things happen and in fairness Thomson were fairly good. It was an inconvenience and a bit frustrating but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We would have preferred to be home but here we are.

“We were kept fairly well informed most of the time but we had to ring home to find out if our departure time was on the internet. Then we realised we wouldn’t be home until the early hours of the morning.

“It was a much bigger inconvenience for people who had to get home for work and for those who had medication in their luggage which they could not get at,” Mr Slattery added.

When contacted, the Thomson press office confirmed the delay occurred “due to the first officer falling sick”. The company confirmed that meal vouchers had been distributed to passengers.

Passengers were due to be collected from their hotel at about midnight and it was hoped their flight would arrive in Shannon at about 4am today.