Where do I start with this absolute shambles of a company? From the beginning I guess would be the best place, sadly it’s a grumble of epic proportions as the company and airline are a complete mess and disgrace, I’ve vowed I will never travel TUI again, I’d rather pay a lot more and travel with Virgin etc. And urge anybody to avoid them at all cost’s i can only speak for their holiday’s to Orlando but given the complete mess these are i can’t imagine what the rest of their flights/holidays are like? We’ve all seen the news of late! Countless delays and cancellations and blaming every shortfall and inadequacies on everybody except themselves. Never thought I’d utter these words but Easyjet and Ryanair are far superior at present. Anybody has to be better than TUI!
So our holiday was booked all the way back in 2019, with our trip due to commence August 2020, now as we all know Covid-19 hit us in February 2020 and life as we know it changed, in a bid to combat this aggressive virus, numerous restrictions were put in place to keep us safe! Including stopping all non-essential travel out of the United Kingdom! So our holiday was pushed to 2021, when we booked our trip we were due to fly out of Manchester just after 9am flying to Orlando Sanford Airport which depending which route you take is either 30.6 miles or 36.3 mile to the main resorts, either way it’s a nice easy 35 to 38 minute drive to our hotel which is just off I-drive not to far from universal, Sanford is a relatively easy airport to navigate through rarely queues going through customs and the car rental was a breeze to get, yeah the airport is dated but who cares when you arrive you just want to get to your resort quickly and when you’re heading home, the decor is the last thing you care about you simply want to get home! The reason we booked TUI was due to Virgin Atlantic at the time ramping their costs up to astronomical levels, and at the time TUI offering a perfect comparison at half the price, it was a no brainer, as well as having traveled with TUI before, knowing the ease of getting through Sanford as oppose to the organized chaos at Orlando International Airport (MCO) it was booked and paid for.
Moving The Goalposts
Somewhere during Covid-19, TUI moved the goalposts not a little bit but some significant miles!! Some bright spark decided that all the travelers using TUI’s flights out to Orlando from the United Kingdom that nearly all stay either in the resort hotels of Disney, Universal or in and around I-Drive that previous enjoyed arriving into Sanford Airport, which was remember 35-38 minutes away, actually wanted to fly into Melbourne Airport (MLB) interestingly being called Melbourne-Orlando? Its nowhere near Orlando! Like calling Gatwick airport as Gatwick-Stansted or Manchester Airport-Birmingham! Nowhere near each other but for whatever reason Melbourne is suddenly an Orlando based airport? (Go figure) which incidentally is a nice 73.7 miles away from I-Drive and significantly further if you’re staying in Disney, driving yourself it a good 1 hour & 30 minutes minimum, why TUI chose to do this will remain a mystery? It can only be a financial gain for TUI? As the fare paying passenger gains absolutely nothing from this ridiculous move, both TUI and Melbourne Airport Authority will try and sell this partnership as the next best thing to the invention of electricity! They will try and sell it to you with such comments as “dedicated terminal just for TUI” my response still 73.7 miles or 1h 40m drive by car way more on coach! Or “much quicker through US immigration” my response still 73.7 miles or 1h 40m drive by car way more on coach! Even “guaranteed from landing, baggage reclaim, customs to your car or coach much quicker than MCO or SFB” my response still 73.7 miles or 1h 40m drive by car way more on coach! The list of attempted sells by TUI and Melbourne Airport is as long as your arm but whichever way they try to decorate this move up, it is nothing but a major inconvenience to the passenger, it adds significant travel time after a 9hr flight, NOBODY stays on the Space Coast PERIOD, nobody cares one bit whether the decor is nice in the airport etc its not relevant in any way. NOBODY CARES. All TUI have done is created some deal for themselves with Melbourne Airport which let’s be fair is a mediocre utterly pointless little Airport serving no purpose whatsoever, handling prior to TUI dumping us there, six flights a day now up to a massive eight flights, the airport is pointless, the facilities are uninspiring the whole model is an utter inconvenience! Now to add insult to an already gaping wound TUI decided that it wasn’t enough to dump us all miles and miles from where we need to be, but they also moved the departure time, so instead of leaving just after 9am getting us into Florida just after 1215pm respectable enough so you get into your hotel in a timely manner, they shifted our departure time to 1.25pm (half a day gone already) so we arrive in Florida after 5.15pm guess what slap bang in the middle of Florida rush hour that tends to run until around 6.30pm so the promise of getting your through customs quickly just dumps you in miles of traffic! It’s like getting a slap in the face.
Our Day of Travel
Saturday 13th August 2022 already two & half years later than our booking and with significant changes and goalpost moves our day of travel has arrived we were flying out on TOM108 Manchester to Melbourne Airport departing on a Boeing 787-900 dream liner, our departure time was 1325hrs so as we had booked premium seats we were eligible to use the Escape Lounge at Manchester Airport terminal 2. We had pre-booked the meet n greet through Manchester Airport themselves quite reasonably priced to be fair for the duration of our time away, so we set off for the airport just after 9am we left early as we were pre-empting chaos at the airport based on media reports etc. As we were driving down to the airport a text message from TUI pinged to the phone, already telling us we had a 2 hour delay! A two hour delay for a flight going mid afternoon how???? So I checked flightradar24 our aircraft registration was G-TUIJ which was showing operating on a routing to Palma in Majorca prior to our flight but the rotation time clearly indicated we were on for a delay based on the woeful aircraft planning by TUI the aircraft was due to leave MAN for PMI at 0625hrs arriving at 1000hrs with an inbound from PMI departing at 1100hrs arriving in MAN at 1255hrs it does not take a genius to work out that there is no way on this earth that a Boeing 787-900 can be disembarked (down steps as jet-bridge broken) baggage/freight unloaded, de-catered, crew off, cleaned, re-catered, fueled, baggage/freight loaded and passengers boarded (again up steps as the jet bridge is broken) in 30 minutes impossible! So we was always going to be delayed regardless!!!!
Our skepticism about Manchester Airport and the dire issues they’ve been having were quickly extinguished! We breezed into the car park with a flawless process, made our way to our check in desks again handful of people in front of us but again a perfect process, then off to security virtually no queues took us all of 10 minutes from walking into security to being stood in duty free, given what we had just experienced I question “what issues” as it could not of been smoother.
So knowing we were already delayed by two hours due to deliberate woeful planning on TUI’s behalf we decided to wander to the Escape Lounge as it was part of our premium seat purchase, we arrived at around 11am queued to get in once at the desk we was turned away! As our flight was now delayed we could not access the lounge until at least 1230pm? That wasn’t explained as we checked in? So we has to venture back into the terminal and wait it out, as we sat waiting we could hear more issues with TUI flights but nobody else’s, we heard a TUI to Palma flight calling all passengers as they were being taken to a hotel for the day major delay, then we heard a TUI flight to Ibiza calling all passengers to the information desk no doubt yet another lengthy delay, seems TUI cannot get a departure out on time this season!
Our Day of Travel cont.
So we finally made it up to the Escape Lounge we’re we chilled out enjoyed a few drinks and a little food, the Lounge was very busy but relaxed the staff were excellent and very polite. It was nice to sit down kick back and absorb the ambiance. Knowing our flight was delayed until 1525hrs we had time to kill, I knew the inbound aircraft still hadn’t landed in Manchester from Palma as I was checking Flightradar24 it was showing an arrival time of 1425hrs (see below)
Across the tannoy at 1310hrs a call for all passengers traveling on TOM108 to Melbourne to make their way to gate 206? 2h 15m earlier than our new departure time really? We stayed in the lounge and waited for a while as no point running to a gate where there was no aircraft, call after call for this flight continued until at 1400hrs they announced “last call for all passengers traveling on TUI flight TOM108 to Melbourne to make your way to gate 206” we figured we better go as this was the final call? Once at the gate along with 300 other passengers we waited and waited and waited! Our 1525hrs delayed departure came and went 1615hrs came and went 1630hrs arrived and sporadic names began being called at the gate bearing in mind we had been sat around a hot gate area now for 2h 30m on top of an already 2h delay from our 1325hrs departure time so now 4hrs 30m into a delay. I heard my name called but not my families just mine so I approached the desk I was advised I had been randomly selected to be US security checked so off I went? All my electrical items were swabbed, as were my hands and feet all clear I was then told I had to board the aircraft alone? So down three flights of stairs across the ramp up the stairs to the aircraft door and to my seat 5E where I waited for my family. I had a chat with the first officer whilst I waited he was chatting about the delay and how ridiculous it was, we also conversation about TUI using Melbourne as an arrival & departure airport, he said the same pre-programmed response as all TUI staff seem to make, “its much quicker than MCO & SFB to get through customs and baggage reclaim” where I agreed getting through quickly was a bonus I still had a 73 mile drive regardless how long it took to get through! He had no response so scuttled off? Finally at 1648hrs my family got on we settled in our seats and waited to push back, we was advised that due to our delay we had priority taxi to the runway, not the case as just as we pushed back two Jet2.com aircraft pushed back as well as a Turkish Airlines aircraft, as well as an Easyjet, so our priority was 4th in line to others departing, once at the runway we finally took off at 1731hrs exactly 4 hours 06 minutes late!
The Flight and Melbourne Airport!
Once onboard and we were in the air I flicked on my inflight entertainment quite a mediocre selection of movies to be honest was expecting some of the latest movies currently out! As other airlines do but not TUI rather old selection, probably the most modern movie they have is Space jam 2 the rest are dated! As is the TV channels just old series selections. So I thought I’d have a listen to some music albums! When I selected one a message appeared on my screen saying “media blocked” this was the case for ALL the music albums? So I thought I’d play one of the in-flight games but alas when I tried to select I got the same message? So I queried it with the crew who kindly advised me that the media blocks are in place due to covid? Apparently playing Bejeweled or listening to Fleetwood Mac can cause you to contract the virus????
Once we were at cruise altitude the pilot spoke to us over the PA system he apologized for the delay which he did say simply was not good enough! He did try to divert any responsibility away from TUI instead blaming a delayed slot from PMI due to ATC! Failing to mention at any point that the inbound aircraft had a scheduled arrival back to MAN of 1255 so given our scheduled departure time was 1325 no way even if on time they could de-board, unload bags and catering, clean the aircraft, refuel, load baggage and catering then board the outbound in 30 minutes so we was always going to be leaving later than we should of, crew should either be 100% honest and admit poor aircraft rotation planning is the delay cause instead of finding any other excuse rather than TUI’s failings! Or say nothing at all, instead of feeding us rubbish.
The cabin crew were great onboard and worked tirelessly throughout the flight, they were polite and could not do enough to assist passengers when and where they could, they are a credit and about the only plus to an extremely poor service! There was a mess up with my meal I had ordered a vegetarian meal on TUI’s website as I cannot eat meat (medical reasons) once service started the crew advised I was not listed as needing a vegetarian meal so one had not been ordered, the stewardess said she would try and find me one! I was handed in the end a pasta meal (dried up) with two small pieces of mushroom on top that was it? I had a bit but it was not enjoyable, so I ate the starter and 4 bread rolls to compensate my garbage meal, far from ideal but what can you do? Kind of summed up an already sinking experience. Afterwards I settled into my seat and played a game on my phone to pass time before we landed at the next rigmarole part of this journey Melbourne Airport.
Melbourne (Orlando) Airport
We started our decent in darkness as our very late afternoon flight had become a night flight, every single person working or connected with TUI had not shut up about how quick baggage was at Melbourne and how quickly customs were and how just because you get through quickly somehow eradicates the 1h 30m (73 mile) drive ahead of us, but hey ho let’s see what it’s about! We landed at a completely empty little airport yet taxied for 13 minutes to our gate? Then waited a further 10 minutes for the jet bridge to be attached, the airport is a building site not sure what they are attempting to achieve with the works but good luck to them! Short walk had us at the baggage carousel which strangely you collect your bags before you go through US Immigration at Melbourne? So as I said earlier traveling premium class usually affords you a few perks one being getting you baggage FIRST! Sadly at Melbourne Airport and with TUI that’s not the case (pardon the pun) we waited and we waited no bags? The odd premium tagged bag popped out but nothing else, then after 28 minutes waiting and being amongst the last group of premium passengers waiting we got our bags, we were then directed to the immigration hall where the entire flights passengers were snaking around the room? Kids were crying as they were tired parents agitated as they were tired and annoyed at the lengthy queues we were enduring! (Thought Melbourne is supposed to be better than MCO & SFB?) After a 33 minute wait we got to our officer, who I must admit asked the strangest questions I’ve ever been asked by a US Immigration official, but I just wanted out so I answered the best I could and we finally got out of the woeful terminal! Next TUI mess up was the car rental, the trip was booked under my partners name but on the online booking I was the named driver as my partner did not want to drive, TUI again opted not to send that to Alamo! The ladies on the counter were great but as it stood I was about to get stung with a $15 a day additional driver charge amounting to $180 for the duration of the trip, after numerous conversations Alamo dropped the charge as it clearly wasn’t our fault, then offered us an upgrade (complimentary) due to the mess up and confusion, which was nice and added a bit of a bonus to a rubbish experience. We jumped in the car and set off for I-Drive after being taken through an industrial area we got on I95, good job we had change from previous trips as we hit toll after toll after toll! After an age of driving we finally reached our hotel at 0015hrs, a long day compounded by unnecessary delays, by being sent to what can only be described as the most ridiculously stupid move to an airport serving zero benefit. And a drive that should not be FORCED on passengers!
I could rocket off into a 10000 word rant at just how bad TUI are but I feel my point has come across through my post! Some will disagree with my comments which is fine opinions are for everybody. For me TUI made my mind up for me based on service and destination arrival location I’ll never fly TUI again regardless of price, sadly they are the worst airline and company flying to Florida by a mile I cannot even say the worst airline and travel company flying to Orlando as they don’t even fly there. I’d urge anybody wishing to go to Florida to pay the extra and fly Virgin Atlantic or British Airways even Aer Lingus or connect elsewhere Germany with Lufthansa, Iceland with Icelandair anybody is better than TUI and Melbourne Airport. I do not know what sweetener TUI offered Melbourne Airport or the opposite, but clearly lack of thought went into it and whatever deal was struck only benefits TUI and the airport, as the experience for the passenger is a world class failing of epic proportions, and will no fount lose TUI passengers in there droves! 2/10 for TUI, 1/10 Melbourne Airport.
9 thoughts on “No Smile When Travelling With TUI!”
Wow absolutely gobsmacked to hear the horror of your holiday experience with TUI. We have always travelled with TUI and have never had a problem. Due to health issue’s I have been unable to fly for the last 3 years. It’s certainly made me think to research travel companies very thoroughly in the future.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I’m sorry you’ve been unable to travel, I think a lot of research is needed when booking nowadays for us personally we will never ever fly with or use TUI again based on this experience.
We just travelled with TUI. A 1hr delay outbound and a 1hr 45min delay inbound. All the blame was on baggage handlers and ground crew at MCR.
LikeLiked by 1 person
TUI are getting really good at blaming everybody bar themselves, they blame the airports, baggage crews, caterers, ATC, weather etc. You name it they blame it.
What an absolute horror story. I’m glad you have written this to enable others to make an informed choice about whether to choose to go with TUI. if I was able to go on foreign holidays, which I cannot due to illness, this would definitely deter me from choosing TUI.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m sorry your unable to travel due to illness, this story is based on my personal experience, TUI used to be a best in class travel company by far sadly not anymore. If thos trip has taught me anything at all it’s just how bad TUI are and how far they’ve fallen. As an example the decision to move its Florida arrivals to Melbourne Airport is by far the worst decision I’ve ever seen and serves nothing but stress and headache’s for passengers
Omg shocking. I’m so glad you wrote this. We used tui last year. What a total f###up it was. Not only are they shocking has a airline. There customer services are shocking. We had to do all our covid test. We payed for them threw TUI. as a special offer with them…. all came bk apart from 2. The bride 2b son & my granddaughters who was the bridesmaid. I went to Tui outlet. To see what we could do. Sit n wait was there response. We were told to go to the airport as normal… we did. At that airport they were 6 family’s all been told the same thing. Our results could be accessed via tui staff. People with children were sent home. It was shocking & upsetting. We never got them results. We were offered for new tests at the cost of £60.NOT FREE. After we had already paid once for them. Then my Husband our granddaughter. The groom n his son had come over on a later flight. Shocking. They lost a day’s holiday. Would I book with them again HELL NOOOOOO.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Sounds like an awful experience TUI just seem to be going from bad to worse! Thomas Cook were better and look what happened to them.
TUI we’re always our first choice airline but no more. The Covid excuses are wearing thin and they are taking bookings time and time again which they know will be cancelled just to aid cash flow issues. Just last night we had a flight to Barbados scheduled for November for 2 weeks. They offered an alternative flight leaving the day before. We could cope with that but they wanted to make it just for a week!! They were having a laugh. So we cancelled. Even prior to Covid we had previously had 2 long haul holidays cancelled so should have stopped using then. Fortunately, on this occasion we were able to cancel our Airbnb accommodation without any penalty. They have no consideration whatsoever for the paying customer. Never will I use again. Short haul flights is Jet2.com for us
LikeLiked by 1 person