TUI passenger fuming as flight leaves customers ‘packed like sardines’

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A TUI passenger said there was a “diabolical” lack of social distancing during a recent flight.

Even though she enjoyed her week-long holiday, Linda Pincome wasn’t impressed with her return trip.

She said holidaymakers were “like sardines in a tin” as they boarded the plane in Dalaman Airport, Turkey, that was bound for Bristol.

The 48-year-old told BristolLive : "I'm a care assistant and I needed a break, I've been working through all of the pandemic. I thought 'I've got 10 days off, I'm not staying in England'. Turkey was the only place we could go that wasn't quarantined [upon return].

"Everything was really good over there, there was hand gel and people were wearing masks, and people were walking about socially distancing.

"It was brilliant, I couldn't fault the hotel. The holiday itself was absolutely fantastic."

Linda’s relaxing holiday ended as soon as she entered the airport.

She shared images of a crowd of people waiting at the gate, most of whom are wearing masks but are standing in close proximity.

The care assistant said: "It was diabolical. It was like sardines in a tin to get on the flight.

"When I spoke to the air hostess on the plane, I was livid. She wasn't interested.

"It was awful, I didn't feel safe coming back and feel TUI didn't do enough to protect certain passengers.

"Coming off the plane it was socially distanced well, by [seat] numbers, but of course everybody went through passport control and it was the same situation – everyone was just crowded, trying to get their luggage."

There was also a limit on the number of refreshments passengers could purchase on board, she said, with just one drink allowed per passenger for the entire four-hour flight.

She said the outbound flight was a completely different experience, with "brilliant" social distancing at Bristol Airport's departures terminal.

Linda added: "They called us out [to board] by numbers so getting on the plane was no problem.

"There were a few people who kept taking their masks off but the air hostess told them to put it back on again, and apart from that, it was all OK.

"As soon as we got to Dalaman, that was it."

Linda said passengers were called to disembark from the plane by seat numbers, but people congregated at passport control and the luggage carousel.

She lodged an official complaint with TUI upon their return, and has now received an apology and explanation.

A TUI spokesperson said: "We'd like to thank this customer for bringing this to our attention.

"Social distancing measures within airports are managed by the individual airports themselves and not by TUI. However we will provide this feedback to both Bristol and Dalaman airports to ensure they are aware and can do everything possible to address the customer’s concerns.

"The safety and wellbeing of customers and crew is our highest priority."

Bristol Airport has introduced a three-step guide to help passengers stay safe, encouraging them to 'Get prepared > Stay safe > Let’s travel', outlining the procedures in place and the behaviour expected.

An airport spokesperson said: "The Covid safe measures include temperature testing trials on departure; hand sanitising stations; restricting terminal access to customers with boarding pass or tickets only; wearing of face coverings; enhanced cleaning; contactless payments; protective shields at customer service points; signage and one way systems and Tannoy messaging.

"We ask customers to take personal responsibility and follow the guidance and social distancing signage in place.

"We continue to work closely with airlines, the government, Department for Transport and Public Health England on the latest information and guidance to keep our customers and colleagues safe at all times."

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