I sometimes wonder which part of the Planet Earth I occupy, if at all! We have heard from a holidaymaker about the problems he is having in getting his money back, following the cancellation of his holiday! Quite reasonably, he decided that they could not fly with the airline allocated to them by the tour operator, as it would appear the airline is under investigation by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We can only assume that this 'investigation' is being carried out by the 'Safety Regulation Group' (SRG - part of the CAA) whose opening comments state that it is their goal to "to develop our UK world-class aviation safety environment". He now finds himself locked into a holiday complaints scenario instead of going on holiday!
The holidaymaker booked himself and his wife a holiday through a major tour operator, who in turn booked the holiday through another major tour operator, who in turn chartered the passenger's flight with an EU airline. The couple once discovering that there were serious safety issues with this airline, challenged the travel company(s) and received complete indifference; they did not deny it seems, that they were aware of the investigation on the airline's safety record.
They spoke directly with the CAA, who confirmed that an investigation was under-way!
The alleged safety deficits about the airline included:
- The allegation that seats were held together with tie wraps;
- That oxygen masks were apparently held up by ducktape, and that
- There were reports of constant technical failures.
This couple stated that for the price they paid they expected cheap and cheerful, but not something that was potentially dangerous.
The first tour operator has simply stated that they will pass on his e mails, the second will not talk to him and state that he must talk to the first tour operator, and so the circle turns, no doubt leading to the all concluding 'normal booking conditions apply'!
This situation is far from normal! I note from the SRG that they do not appear to publish data with regard to any of their investigations, nor it seems, apart from regulatory matters, does the CAA! I decided to double-check the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and again, could find no record of a current investigation!
This holidaymaker now has a developing set of holiday complaints, through no fault of his own. It is clear that those 'passing the buck' will continue to do so to the detriment of the Consumer in question! In order to move his complaint on, to access the information officially, the holidaymaker will probably have to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act. He will then have to use the information as an argument that the tour operator(s) have failed to recognise the threat to the contract and the fact that contracts are not one way streets - Consumers also have choices, including on who they fly with!
As for the bodies charged with Aviation Safety, it is perhaps time to move away from a Patrician attitude and recognise that passengers have a right to know; how about it EASA?