In strange yet slightly worrying news, it has come to light that some TUI passengers had an uncomfortable ride back from Spain. Three customers boarded a plane in back in June to discover that their allocated seats weren’t installed in the aircraft. Alarmingly, the passengers were not denied boarding and instead were forced to sit on the floor. While this is not great from a customer service point of view, it’s also forbidden by the Civil Aviation Authority. In fact, the CAA states that passengers “must not be left unseated during any stage of the flight.”
So, What Happened?
Back in June, a family of three boarded a TUI flight from Mahon, in Menorca, to Birmingham. The two parents and their 10-year-old daughter were allocated seats 41 D, E and F. They arrived at the aircraft early, and were reportedly some of the first to board. However, when they boarded the aircraft, these seats did not exist. Instead, there was an empty area of the floor.
There was only one spare seat on the flight. As such, the Taylor’s daughter was given this seat. The two parents we then placed into crew jump seats, located in the galley. Despite the CAA states that passengers “must not be left unseated during any stage of the flight.”, they were evicted from these seats during the cruise phase of the flight. This was to allow a full cabin service to take place.
What Should Have Happened?
There’s nothing stopping passengers from being seated in the crew seats in certain conditions, however, it would have been clear before the aircraft took off that access would be needed for the galleys during the flight. As such, rather than the event that did unfold, two there options should have been investigated.
One option would be that the family should have been denied boarding and compensated for the disruption. It’s not unusual for passengers to be denied boarding when a flight has been overbooked. The other option, which should have been pursued given that the passengers were seated in the crew seats, would have been to suspend or scale down the catering service. Given the short duration of the flight (less than three hours), it wouldn’t have been terrible had a reduced catering service been in place.
What Did TUI Say?
We contacted TUI and asked why the passengers were not denied boarding or seated for the duration of the flight. TUI refused to respond to our questions, and instead gave us the following statement: “We are sorry to hear about Mr Taylor and his family’s experience with us. Unfortunately a last minute aircraft change meant that the seats the family was originally assigned were unavailable as the alternative aircraft had a different seating configuration. We’re also sorry for the way the situation was initially handled and we’ll be investigating this. We will also be contacting the customers directly to apologise and will be offering a full refund.”
How do you think TUI should’ve handled the situation? Let us know in the comments down below!