At midnight we all trooped onto our arranged transport to the airport. Some confusion began due to people not realising that whether Gatwick or Newcastle the buses still took you to the same airport.
Arrival at the airport and all was fine. Went to check in at stand 21-23 and waited. Then came the time we should have checked in… And lo and behold this man came through the mass of Geordies and handed out a piece of paper stating that our 03:45 flight was delayed until……….. 13:50 the following day.
After utter shock rolling through the group it became apparent that our plane had never even reached Newcastle yet to fly people to Burgas?! They were waiting for a part. Bearing in mind it takes 4 hours to fly to Burgas from Newcastle we were all shocked that a) nothing had been told to us sooner and b) we were then hearded outside while Thomas Cook decided what to do.
They had known this information for a while hence being able to print the information for all the passenger parties on fancy letter headed paper. But they hadn’t thought to start organising overnight accommodation or alternative transport arrangements?
We waited, and we waited… Finally we got told (after listening in on a rep complaining about how disgustingly long our wait had been) they had rooms for us all but no buses. Bear in mind we were stood in front of 4, yes 4 empty Thomas Cook buses!
Eventually buses seemed to arrive to the now tired and annoyed passengers and by 04:00 we finally had everything arranged and arrived at our temporary accommodation.
After checking in and debating breakfast we slept….
At 8:00ish the next morning we proceeded to get ready for our new anticipated departure time. We had been told the night previous that we would be collected at 10-10:30 unless there were any changes. So we had breakfast which wasn’t overly exciting either due to exhaustion or just general fed-up-ness.
After checking out at 09:16 or wait for updates and/or a bus to the airport began. This gave us a chance to check our travel insurance. Apparently we only qualify for a £15.00 payout – IF – our delay is 12 hours or more, and £15.00 for every additional 12 hour period. This is a complete JOKE!! Seriously, after being basically left in the lurch for 3 hours that should have already, in my opinion, been organised by the travel company I think that is disgusting. A strongly worded letter will be winging its way to Thomas Cook about this one!
As promised the bus arrived at 10:00 to collect us. Then began the wait for flight time confirmation. The 28th/29th of June is officially the Longest day EVER!
11:59 we were finally checked in only to find our flight time is now 16:45 (if it takes off from Newcastle on time) we have been fobbed off left right and center by Thomas Cook. So much so I ended up having a heated conversation with a rep primarily because they have failed to give us any information.
We had been promised that we would be given information regarding compensation claims etc and on the letter we were given at stupid o’clock this morning that we would be provided with meals. But surprise surprise once through check-in and with no one accountable for us it appears this promise had died a death. Even the ladies at information seemed to look piteously at us when we enquired.
So a self purchased drink at Costa later (which we WILL be reimbursed for whether through travel insurance or Thomas Cook) and a lot of chatting with other tired and annoyed passengers we wait.
It has come to light that Thomas Cook have an elitist policy regarding room allocation. Those of us who had booked package deals got into 5* accommodation. Those with flight only simply got a room in a clean but not as swanky hotel. How does that work? They paid for the sane flight and its the flight that was the issue so why wasn’t everyone given the same treatment????
At 12:22 surprisingly the promised food arrived, so we hearded again like a small flock of sheep to collect it. We felt a bit like we were collecting our ration… Which consisted of the following:
Ham & Cheese sarnie, chocolate croissants, coca cola and a bottle of water. Roll on 16:45 is all I can say. But we have had confirmation the flight IS leaving Newcastle airport now – not from a rep or anyone at the airport but from a girl who’s friends were meant to be coming to Bulgaria on the plane we were waiting for.
At least you can sit outside and top the tan up at this airport!
It is now 18:14 and we’re in the sky. Finally! We boarded at 17:10 give or take a few and nearly had a further disaster when the main door failed to engage. But captain to the rescue – got a loud cheer when he boshed it shut successfully.
We had a chat with the cabin manager who made us aware that the Newcastle end were much better informed. And it was quite frankly a shambles. We are going to start compensation and travel insurance proceedings at touch down on English soil. And I doubt we will be the only ones.
So unless something else horrific occurs such as a crash. I’m now going to chill out, eat my in flight meal and listen to my ipod. Hopefully I’ll nap for a few minutes as in the last 24 hours I’ve had about 3 hours sleep total. I think the anger is keeping me awake. And to prove that we are actually in the sky…
19:29 we have been picked up and on way home from the airport so to summarize:
Original flight time (28/06/13) 03:45*
(estimated time of arrival local time of 05:30)
Actual flight time (29/06/13) 17:10 (time of arrival local time 18:45)
*with bus pick up at 00:00