This is the view at 0725 EDT at Ottawa International Airport. The plane pictured is the Thomas Cook Airlines Boeing 757 I was supposed to be flying on from Montréal Trudeau to London Gatwick at 1800 yesterday but almost 14 hours on we’re still not moving.

OK, things go wrong with planes – that’s understandable. But the sheer incompetence of the airline, and the treatment of the passengers has been quite something. First of all the airline knew at least 12 hours before the scheduled departure that there were problems with the plane, but no effort was made to inform passengers, so everyone turned up at the airport expectantly.

We were then sent to hotels for 6 hours, until 2330 EDT yesterday, and told to then report back to the airport to board buses to Ottawa at 0100 EDT. Apparently Ottawa has longer flying hours than Montréal, and as the plane was supposed to land in the middle of the night that’s where we headed. In the end the plane was so delayed we probably could have stayed in Montréal and enjoyed a night of sleep – but maybe that would have cost the airline more…?

Boarding the Ottawa buses was a messy and torturous process, with airline officials herding people into line unnecessarily, and then the buses failed to move for 45 minutes, and then inched themselves towards Ottawa. Staff repeatedly told passengers that the plane would leave at 0600 EDT, but I’d discovered the excellent website of Ottawa Airport (the only thing that seems to work around here) and could tell that was never going to happen.

Bags had already been checked in at Montréal, so all should have been swift at Ottawa? Forget it. Two staff, then reduced to one, meant it took 75 minutes to dump 200 passengers’ bags and give out a few $10 breakfast vouchers. It takes a bit of skill to do it so slowly.

And then there’s the plane… It has been sat on the tarmac since 0525 EDT, and nothing is happening. A man has sat and fallen asleep in the small truck that pushes back the aircraft, and they have loaded and unloaded a dozen bags. No announcements, no news, absolutely nothing.

In short all of this is complete incompetence.

For me it’s doubly frustrating as I will not manage to get the last Eurostar on Saturday evening back to Brussels, so will have to stay in London. Eurostar, as ever, have been fabulously accommodating – why can’t their people be employed to run airlines too?


  1. Always pleasant to be attacked by someone you’ve never met and never had any interaction with! I know things go wrong, that’s understandable. The issue is how the company deals with that and in this circumstance it was far from adequate.

  2. Stan Still

    Another person who does nbothing but whinge, get a life amn and grow up, things can go wrong with aircraft. Do you need baby sitting you wimp.

  3. By the way, EC261/2004 is not necessarily a good policy. It’s a political policy that was created because of MEPs and Madame Palazzio. It’s a bad regulation because all it does is financially punish carriers. It does not guarantee you anything as a pasesnger, ie. treatment, certain benefits (like food, water, etc.). It basically just guarantees you x amount of euros after a certain number of hours. If you’re dehydrated and die from being stuck on a plane for 10 hours, that compensation isn’t going to help you much.

    Furthermore, the creation of that Passenger Bill of Rights means that Member States were not advocating or requiring (stronger) consumer interest measures in carriers’ tariffs. So that’s a failure in that system.

  4. Marianne, not true. AA, UA, and all non-Community carriers only comply with EC261/2004 when they fly from the Community. Not when going to.

    But in this case TCX is registered in the UK, so it’s a Community carrier. So Jon would qualify for 261/2004.

  5. Marianne

    Jon and any one else flying from or to the EU, mind your passengers rights and send your claim to your airline :

    Even American or United have to comply with these whenever they fly to/from the EU. Of course, airlines don’t advertise these rights we have…

    That’s a less known good policy of the EU.

  6. You should try American or United airlines. Your Thomas Cook affair will seem as a walk in the park then:) There are no hotel or food vouchers with them, you pay for food and drink on the plane. You also pay for your checked luggage, and they lose it, more often than not.

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