According to UK news website The Independent, Tui cancelled a number of flights from Chambery airport, southeast France, on 4 January due to poor weather. However, the tour firm apparently did not have effective contingency plans in place, leading to passengers having to wait for hours outside the airport – which had become overcrowded – in freezing temperatures. The situation reportedly became so bad that the French Red Cross had to step in, setting up an emergency shelter for stranded tourists; others took shelter in a nearby theatre.
“It was clear that Tui had no contingency plan in place,” a stranded British passenger was quoted by The Independent as saying. “Staff on the ground and at the Tui call centre had no information.”
Tui has informed customers that they should approach their travel insurers for compensation, though it seems likely that those affected will be making, at the very least, official complaints, as many were outraged that the tour operator did not seek to find them alternative accommodation. This is despite the fact that hotel rooms were apparently available nearby. Speaking purely from a PR perspective, even if Tui was not technically obliged to provide accommodation – and it seems thousands of pounds were saved by not doing so – it would have perhaps been a sensible good faith gesture to make such arrangements.
Many outward flights from the UK to Chambery were also delayed for hours, while some passengers were put on flights to Manchester rather than Birmingham, and told on arrival to contact their travel insurer.