Traveller accuses Tui of 'ruining' a 30th wedding anniversary trip

‘Broken plane toilets, lost luggage – a holiday NOT to remember’: Furious traveller accuses Tui of ‘ruining’ a 30th wedding anniversary trip to Lanzarote, which went wrong at almost every turn

  • John Salter claimed Tui ‘ruined’ his package holiday to Lanzarote 
  • The first-time Tui flyer has slammed the airline’s ‘appalling’ customer service 
  • READ MORE: I’m a traveller – here’s why the sleeper bus in Vietnam is a bargain 

It was a holiday not to remember.

A disgruntled traveller has told of how a 30th wedding anniversary trip with Tui went wrong at almost every turn. 

John Salter, a 56-year-old who lives in Merseyside, was travelling with his wife from Manchester recently in the hope of enjoying a sunny package holiday in Lanzarote. 

But the couple arrived in the country 14 hours later than planned, experienced severe delays on the way home. And had to wait six days for their luggage to be returned to them.  

The first-time Tui traveller said the company ‘ruined’ their trip.

A disgruntled traveller has told of how a 30th wedding anniversary trip with Tui went wrong at almost every turn 

Explaining the September ordeal in a letter shared with MailOnline Travel, John said that Tui first informed them of changes to their 7:10am flight via email at 3:41am, revealing that their flight would be operated by SmartLynx on behalf of Tui. 

The couple said they arrived at the airport at 4:25am, with ‘plenty of time’ to spare and were told the original flight had been divided into two separate aircraft. At 8:20am, John said passengers had boarded his aircraft, but were then told there would be delays ‘due to a problem with the on-board toilets’. 

At around 10:00am, John said they were ‘advised that anyone who needs to use the toilet will be transferred back to the gate’.

After enduring ‘one of the worst flights’ he’d ever taken, operated by GetJet, Tui customer John arrived in Lanzarote (pictured) 14 hours later than planned. He said he and his wife spent most of their second day ‘recovering’ 


To help travellers stuck in similar situations, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, shared some key advice to MailOnline. 


Which? says passengers are entitled to compensation for delays of three hours or more. 

Rory says: ‘Unfortunately, if the cause is deemed an extraordinary circumstance – that could be because of extreme weather or a natural disaster for example – then compensation won’t be due. Things like staff illness and broken toilets though are pretty everyday occurrences, so passengers should still be compensated when minor issues like these lead to major delays.

‘If you’re not convinced by the reason given for the hold-up, challenge the airline – and if you’re not satisfied with their response, you may want to consider escalating your claim to an Alternative Dispute Resolution body.

‘You should also bear in mind that whatever the cause of the delay, your airline should be taking care of you, and making sure you have vouchers for meals and refreshments while you wait.

‘If your delay drags on for more than five hours, then more options are available to you, as you have the same rights as if your journey had been cancelled. This means you have the right to ask to be rerouted, meaning you can be put on another flight if others are operating, or request a full refund.’ 


According to Rory, airlines must make ‘every possible effort’ to get a passenger’s luggage back to them as soon as possible. 

He adds: ‘If you need to purchase some basics to tide you over until you’re reunited with your luggage, your airline should let you know how much you can claim back per day – though if you’re on your return journey, the amount may be less, or nothing at all, as the assumption is you’ll have most things you need at home. 

‘Make sure you keep receipts so you can make a claim at a later date, and submit this to your airline. If all else fails, your travel insurance should also prove a useful backstop for recouping your costs.’


Which? advises travellers to book their holiday as a package as they’ll have ‘better protection’. 

Rory says: ‘That means if your holiday is cut short, or you turn up and there’s a car park where the pool should be, the onus is on your holiday provider to make it right.

‘So, if for example you’ve missed a day of your holiday through no fault of your own – and with it the opportunity to use the all-inclusive facilities you’ve paid for – you may have grounds to make a claim against your provider. If you don’t think the amount you’re offered measures up, the first step is to pursue an appeal using their internal complaints process. 

‘If you’re still unhappy, you may want to consider escalating your complaint to a trade body if your provider is a member. Both ABTA and AITO have arbitration routes – but bear in mind costs can be attached and in the case of ABTA, pursuing a claim this way means that you won’t be eligible to take your case to the small claims court in future.’

For more expert advice, visit Which? Travel.

John and his wife disembarked to use the bathroom facilities, but returned to the news that his aircraft was being taken out of service ‘due to the onboard issues’.

They were then asked to wait for further updates. 

After several delays and changes in flight times throughout the day, John said they flagged down a ‘confused-looking’ Tui staff member and asked him if they could go home. 

John continued: ‘He said that we were free to leave the airport and go home but as we were breaking our contract with Tui, we’d be entitled to nothing back in regards to our holiday cost. He also advised us that a further update would be sent at 4pm.’

Finally, at 8:55pm, the pair boarded a flight operated by GetJet.

John said: ‘The plane looked quite old, and I have to say this was probably one of the worst flights we’ve taken. There was very little space between seats and it was a very uncomfortable journey.’

He continued: ‘Considering the fact that this should have been operating as a Tui flight, there was no evidence of Tui staff anywhere on the aircraft.’

Having completely missed their first day of holiday, the couple arrived at the hotel the next morning at 2:40am, and said they spent most of their second day ‘recovering’ from the journey. 

After spending just under a week at the all-inclusive hotel, John claimed his last night was ‘ruined’ by a Tui email regarding their flight home. 

He explained: ‘Due to operational issues our inbound flight was now being divided onto two aircraft. Straight away our last night had been ruined, as we were worrying about our flight home and what could go wrong.’

The couple arrived at the airport for their 12:41pm Tui flight, operated by SmartLynx again.

John said all seemed to be ‘going well’, and boarding commenced at 1pm.

However, two hours later, the captain announced that Tui would remove all luggage from the plane and transport it at a later date in an attempt to ‘reduce fuel’. 

At this point, John claimed that some passengers left the flight as they ‘refused to leave their luggage behind’.

Meanwhile, John and his wife stayed aboard the flight as they were told that Tui staff would be at arrivals to ‘help’. 

Three hours later than scheduled, he said the plane ‘finally took off’. 

The couple arrived in Manchester at 7:40pm and claimed there was no sign of any Tui staff members, so eventually they left the airport without their luggage. 

It was finally returned to them six days later, with the pair having to buy various items that had been packed in their cases. 

Speaking to MailOnline Travel, John said he received compensation from Tui, which included £1,400 for both flight delays, £48 for seat changes, £150 for the six-day delay in their suitcases being returned, and £88 for out-of-pocket expenses caused by the delay in luggage. 

This was after Tui offered them £24 for the 14-hour delay, which he ‘refused to accept’.

Despite the compensation, John slammed Tui for its ‘appalling’ customer service and declared he would never fly with the company again. 

Tui also sent the couple £200 worth of vouchers, which John said they ‘will not be using’. 

In his letter, John said: ‘I cannot put into words the disappointment and frustration we have experienced from Tui’, adding that he and his wife have been ‘daunted by the dishonourable service’ and were given a ‘holiday not to remember’. 

Tui declined MailOnline’s request for comment. 

The names have been changed by request.

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