Alison McQueen


Let’s not take any nonsense

An interesting item floating out of the television last night while I was attempting to buy a satnav on the internet. (More of that later.) So I’m trying to work out whether or not I need Eastern European maps, when Anne Robinson’s voice comes striding out saying something to do with delayed flight compensation.

This is very interesting, as I am currently in the throes of suing Thomson over a 24 hour fiasco while trying to get to India last December. I’ve never used Thomson before, and I’ve never gone to India on a package deal before either. First (and last) time for everything, they say. I thought it would be the simplest thing to do seeing as I was going with my husband, which is a rarity, and we were only going for a week. Or so we thought.

Four hours after boarding the flight it became pretty clear that this plane was going nowhere. What followed, I can only describe as a bunfight. By this time it was almost midnight, everything was closed, and we were sent off to spend the night in a Gatwick hotel, armed with a food voucher to the value of about a fiver. There was also the small issue of waiting well over an hour for the luggage to be off-loaded and sent up the chute.

There was no customer service at all – not a single person in sight – and this went on until the flight reboarded the following evening, even though by that time my husband and I had decided that we really couldn’t be bothered to go all the way to India for six days, and we’d much rather poddle off home and abandon the trip, which we were quite entitled to do under the circumstances. Only we couldn’t find anyone to speak to, and the one person I managed to raise on the phone at Thomson was polite, but useless.

Thomson ignored all correspondence and refused to return my calls, so after a very reasonable three month wait, I decided to sue. The whole thing can be done on the internet these days, through the ministry of justice’s service called Money Claim Online. It’s an absolute doddle. You’ll need to register yourself for a government Gateway number, which is also a piece of cake and is very useful. (With a Gateway number, you can get a new passport and things like that, without bothering with paperwork.) My local court issued proceedings against Thomson at the beginning of March, and I am currently waiting for a court date to come through.

I have absolutely no problem with the concept of confrontation, because I firmly believe that you can say anything you want to say politely and without getting your knickers in a twist. Just get your facts straight first, decide what it is that you want, and present your case in a nice calm fashion. I’ve never sued anyone before, so I’m very interested to see how this will pan out, and I will of course keep you posted.

Incidentally – if you’re interested to know about the EU regulations on delayed flight compensation, here is the Watchdog page, and here’s a link to the full ruling and regulation.