Customers have praised a TUI pilot known only as “Simon” for leaving the cockpit to load bags onto the plane at Manchester Airport yesterday.
Following a day-long delay to their flight, passengers on Tui’s TOM2744 to Heraklion say the employee went “above and beyond” by going out into the rain to load luggage himself.
On the tarmac, a man in a tie and a high-vis, Tui-branded vest loaded cases onto the conveyor belt to the hold, according to traveler Katherine Cox.
“Please @TUIUK @TUIGroup can we get Simon the co-pilot of the TOM2744 flying from Manchester on 30 May an excellence award?” Jenny Cook, a fellow customer, tweeted.
“He is out on the tarmac in the rain helping to load the bags to try and get us on our way after 30 hours delay so far.”
— Katherine Cox (@KLSteve82) May 30, 2022
Passengers can be heard screaming things like “Go on lad,” “Go on Simon,” and “This guy’s a legend” as they criticize baggage workers lingering about on the tarmac in the footage.
The plane’s passengers had arrived a day and a half early for their journey, which had been planned for 7.55 a.m. on Sunday morning. They claim to have boarded a Tui jet without incident at 7.30 a.m.
They then had to wait two hours, which escalated into a more than 24-hour wait.
Jenny Cook, her husband Duncan, and their twin daughters Charlotte and Holly were on the road.
She told The Independent: “After waiting around two hours, the pilot advised us that the baggage was the problem. The passengers cheered when the bags arrived after about three hours and began to be loaded.
“But mid-load they were told to unload and the pilot confirmed that we were unable to stay on the plane. No reason was given. My girls were in tears.”
Tui passengers were brought back through the terminal, according to Ms Cook, where no airline officials appeared to explain the issue.
Instead, they received letters from Tui, stating that the cancellation was due to “operational concerns.”
“People started to get emails to say the flight had been moved to the next day,” says Ms. Cook. “My email only arrived when I was in the taxi on the way home later that day. “
The Cook family went home because they live nearby and returned to Manchester Airport the next morning for the rescheduled 1.15 pm flight. However, there were more delays, with people waiting to board the jet until the afternoon.
“Eventually we got a gate number and went to wait. The wait continued and eventually, we boarded,” says Ms Cook.
Around 3 pm, “the bags arrived and the next we heard was the pilot apologizing for the past 30 hours. He explained that they were doing everything they could to get the flight out.”
Due to baggage loading concerns, the pilot informed passengers that there could be another 40-minute wait.
“He said, ‘my copilot Simon is even loading bags’ – so we looked out the window, and there he was.”
Swissport is in charge of luggage handling for Tui flights, according to a spokeswoman for Manchester Airport.
“The next we knew we were taxiing to the runway, we were all cheering. I decided to tweet as this guy had gone above and beyond,” says Ms. Cook.
Tui, she believes, should thank the pilot for his assistance in getting the trip off the ground.
“We were all taken aback by what he had done,” she adds. “Thirty-two hours delayed and it could have been much longer if it weren’t for Simon.”
A spokeswoman for Swissport, an airport services company, explained that baggage is handled by a number of organizations at Manchester Airport.
They said: “In today’s aviation industry, an average passenger’s journey counts on several different organizations delivering a range of key services, including baggage-handling among many others. Small impacts to one part of this journey – such as air traffic restrictions, pressure on airport infrastructure, security queues or last-minute flight schedule changes – can have knock-on effects that multiply delays and disruption elsewhere.
“While the return inflight volumes after the serious impact of the pandemic is undoubtedly a positive development, it is also exacerbating resource challenges across the aviation industry, including at Swissport, especially at a busy period of holiday travel.
“We are very sorry for our part in any delays and disruption passengers have experienced. We’re doing everything we can to address our role in meeting our resource challenges, welcoming over 2,000 new colleagues since the start of the year, and we continue to work with our partners to identify contingency measures and improve baggage and aircraft turnaround times.”
A Tui spokesperson said: “We are aware of videos shared on social media showing one of our amazing Tui pilots supporting our operation by loading bags onto one of our aircraft bound for Crete from Manchester on 30 May 2022.
“Whilst not something our pilots would normally do, this video is one example of the incredible dedication of Tui colleagues who are doing everything they can to get customers away on their holidays. We can’t thank him enough for his swift and decisive actions, and we would like to thank all of our teams who continue to demonstrate their hard work and commitment to Tui and its customers.
“We understand that we have disappointed some customers with the recent disruption, but we would like to reassure them that we are doing everything we can to get them away on their holidays.“
Tui “would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers on flight TOM2744 from Manchester to Heraklion on Sunday 29 May who was affected by an aircraft change due to operational issues,” according to the spokesperson, who added that affected customers were contacted and given the option to cancel their vacation for a full refund.
“We understand how frustrating and disappointing this will have been and are very sorry for the inconvenience caused,” they concluded.
Photo cover via Twitter: Katherine Cox/@KLSteve82