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Crystal and the Chambery debacle

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi
I was caught up in the Crystal ski debacle this weekend, Crystal variously claiming weather as a problem (BA was flying just fine) or lying about where the plane was (just refuelling at Lyon..it was still on the tarmac at Manchester...cancelled according the booking systems in Chambery).

TUI suggest we claim via our travel insurance, which seems sensible, does anyone have an opinion on the sensibility of this, or how best to make a claim?

It was actually fascinating to watch the level of manipulation Crystal used in order to shepherd us to a refuge shelter with Red Cross attending, beating everyone with falsehoods and false hopes all day. Plenty of hotel rooms available (we booked our 3 rooms at 01.00 am, 10 minutes walk from the shelter at €99 euro/rm). Any experience or advice form the Snowheads collective?

Thanks,
Iain
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There are currently 2 Threads running on this topic.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Go half way down page 1 and follow on, a couple of us have tried to debunk the urban myths that are flying around, be careful using terms like falsehoods, it was a highly dynamic situation and the lifting of fog is one of the trickiest things to forecast.

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150467#3505741
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Old Fartbag wrote:
There are currently 2 Threads running on this topic.

I cant find them in a search? The only thread I can find refers to Crystal asking for additional carriage charges? My question was about seeking redress for Saturday/Sunday chaos?
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https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150496#3505138

The thread about the ski carriage turns into a discussion about the Chambery debacle: https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150467
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chocksaway wrote:
Go half way down page 1 and follow on, a couple of us have tried to debunk the urban myths that are flying around, be careful using terms like falsehoods, it was a highly dynamic situation and the lifting of fog is one of the trickiest things to forecast.

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150467#3505741


You miss the point. Once the flight is cancelled, its time to take care of the passengers, particularly the vulnerable. Definitely to avoid turning it into a humanitarian disaster for those with children, the vulnerable or injured. Just good honest information would have relieved many passengers' suffering/allowed them to manage their own fate.
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@Strax, you started one of the threads yourself. https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?t=150496
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@Strax, I wasn't there but do you think that a calling it a humanitarian disaster might be stretching things a little?

I recall an earlier thread about a chalet where plates not warmed before dinner - now THAT'S a humanitarian disaster"
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The Australian bush fires are a humanitarian disaster. A delayed flight is just an inconvenience. Rule 5.
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https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ski/news/thousands-stranded-at-chambery-airport-tui-cancelled-flights-what-to-do/
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@Strax, shouldn't TUI be offering you compensation for the delay ??
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From the Telegraph article linked above (we'll see how accurate it is)
Quote:

By way of an apology and as a gesture of goodwill for the upset caused, Crystal Ski customers will receive a pro-rata refunds for two days of their total holiday cost. Customers who no longer wished to travel could amend their holiday to any alternative Crystal Ski Holiday with a £50 per person incentive, or if they wanted to cancel they received a full refund of their total holiday cost. Crystal will be contacting all customers impacted and reimbursing them for reasonable out of pocket expenses where they have receipts.
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I landed at lyon Saturday lunchtime.
The large lake over chambery was foggy when we drove through at around 1500-1530.
Can see why flights would be delayed as chambery is 3 side mountains with one run in based on line of sight.
Moan about not being in chembery is better than not moaning your being scrapped off the side of a mountain.

All these delays probably explained why the roads was quiet
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Strax, You misunderstood my point, you said 'claiming weather was a problem' and 'BA were flying just fine' which infers that TUI were lying about the weather issue. A couple of us have explained in great detail why this happened, as for TUI mopping up afterwards clearly lessons have to be learned.
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Friends Manchester flight left 37 hours late, diverted to Lyon then they overnighted there. Transfer arrived here almost 48 hours late.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've been in a few ski holiday delay situations before.

Any TO staff on the ground usually deal out a few platitudes and then disappear as they don't want to deal with the backlash when the delay extends further than they initially promised. I would be taking anything they say with a huge dose of salt and nowadays I would be double-checking anything they say with aircraft movements reported online. Sometimes it's an evolving situation that they can't predict, sometimes they know full well what's going on, but deliberately obfuscate because the truth would be hard to deliver.

In one case it was a technical issue on the plane that was due to pick us up. Other planes from the same TO/charter airline were taking passengers back to the same airport, one or two families with kids got to fill the spare places on those. They weren't willing to take the rest of us who had been waiting for hours instead of the passengers just arrived at the airport for those flights, they made us wait hours more as they didn't want multiple planeloads of passengers with valid 3hr+ compensation claims. Apparently they couldn't bring another plane into service either. Thankfully there is a hypermarket & McDs right near to the Grenoble cattle shed, so we didn't go hungry. I did make them pay for my 9 hour delay though!!

In another case, it was near the end of the season, they had decided to combine two flights into one, so we had to wait for the later incoming flight to drop passengers at Bergamo airport before flying to us at Brescia, which is only about 30mins by road. Then on the way back, we had to take-off from Brescia and land at Bergamo to pick up passengers before we could continue our journey back to the UK. I'm sure they could have brought those passengers by coach to Brescia or dropped us directly to Bergamo, but in their wisdom this was the way to save cash. We were dumped at Brescia cattle shed with no knowledge of all of this until everyone was through passport control and then the delay was posted on the screens. Thankfully I managed to convince the Italian Border Police to let me and another disgruntled passenger back through passport control (20 yrs ago, wouldn't happen now) so we could go and talk to the TO staff. I asked our Chalet girl who was in charge, the operations guy was very surprised (and red-faced) to have two clients coming to question him about his company's antics!!
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HutToHut wrote:
From the Telegraph article linked above (we'll see how accurate it is)
Quote:

By way of an apology and as a gesture of goodwill for the upset caused, Crystal Ski customers will receive a pro-rata refunds for two days of their total holiday cost. Customers who no longer wished to travel could amend their holiday to any alternative Crystal Ski Holiday with a £50 per person incentive, or if they wanted to cancel they received a full refund of their total holiday cost. Crystal will be contacting all customers impacted and reimbursing them for reasonable out of pocket expenses where they have receipts.


This reads as if the refunds for 2 days apply to people travelling out to the Alps, not returning home.
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I'll chip in here.

2 separate issues need a 2 part response I feel.

Part 1. Crystal rep response to the issue (applies to other TO's but not all). In my experience of many TO ski holidays I have consistently found Crystal to be the worst, I think it's in part their resourcing profile, young inexperienced staff paid a pittance and trying to find a balance of enjoying a season. Add to this a minimal staffing level, so staff doing transfer duty often need to be back in resort to cover their other work. As said previously the in airport reps often either don't have the info (which is poor) or just plain lie about the situation to avoid conflict.

Part 2. Chambery. I have made the same response many times, I have used it probably 20-30 times and only had delays twice, this is probably comparable in percentage terms to all the other main Alps airports I have used. The big downside is the facilities. It is a glorified shed and when busy is horrible but we know that so are prepared. That said I've been stuck in Lyon airside (they get you through all the gates so they can send the staff home) waiting for a delayed flight out and is wasn't significantly worse.

I am flying in/out of chambery (by choice again) at Feb half term.

I find some of this is similar to discussion about busy resorts at half term, if you know what to expect, can plan accordingly you can minimise the pain.

As a final point I have to say I feel for those left to sleep in sports halls etc it's never a good end to a holiday.
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I wonder if Crystal will argue that it is an 8-day holiday, including travel, so a pro-rata refund is only a quarter of the cost, rather than 6-days (+travel) when they would have to refund a third?
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@ecureuil, 7 nights, so not a full 8 days.
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Another great advert for independent travel.....we choose to fly Lufthansa into MUC and/ or Swiss into ZRH, and book when the flights are released to ensure costs are sensible, and have never had any issues, EJ also pretty good, Jet2 at a push but expensive ime and you pay for ski carriage.....you pay your money and take your chance imo, choose to deal with numpties like Crystal/ TUI and don't be surprised if you get treated like one is my thoughts here, sorry but they try to run their services on a shoe-string, fly into remote airports to reduce costs rather than larger hubs, and then people complain when it goes wrong. I haven't looked at flying into Savoie/ Tarentaise for a while, but if I was it'd be GVA or Lyon via EJ, J2 or BA, and not with TO flights, there's simply too much to go wrong, and no contingency when it does.
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Well covered in the local news papers - I wonder if TUI have to pay for the 'emergency shelter' process to be used?https://www.ledauphine.com/edition-chambery-aix-les-bains/2020/01/05/apres-une-nuit-precaire-les-naufrages-des-airs-ont-pu-regagner-l-angleterre
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@Markymark29, except that independent travel can go equally wrong. Flights can be delayed or cancelled incurring additional costs for hotels, re-booking car hire and/or transfers/onward travel. Weather is one of these things that disrupt the best laid plans. Having had an independently-booked flight from MAN-MUC cancelled as I was on the way to Manchester airport, I witnessed the chaos that a few cancelled flights can create. I was lucky enough to have been able to re-book a flight the next day and an overnight stay at an airport hotel (at my own expense of course). Not everyone was so lucky, so there were many people bedding down in the terminal. Cancellations due to adverse weather (which in this case was a mere dusting of snow 10 miles away from Manchester airport) do not qualify for compensation payments.
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@queenie pretty please, Yeah I get that too, but it's less likely I suggest flying into large hubs like MUC/ ZRH and Manchester rather than smaller local airports. The TO's arent daft, they do this for a reason, ie to cut costs and they up-sell on the basis of being super accessible to resort, and cut down on transfer times, what they don't advertise quite so vigorously is their strategy when it goes wrong. 95% of the time it'll work great, ie when the sun shines, but when it doesn't and there's a storm etc it goes badly awry.
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Quote:

I was lucky enough to have been able to re-book a flight the next day and an overnight stay at an airport hotel (at my own expense of course).

I don't understand. Surely if your flight is cancelled it is up to the airline to put you up for the night.

Though it has happened to my wife quite a bit it has only happened to me once: a Glasgow to Birmingham flight. Flybe cancelled the flight quoting a few mm of snow, though we suspect it was really because there was only 10 people or so on the flight and they wanted to save money. They offered us a coach overnight or the hotel and a meal for the night. It was a good hotel and a good meal. The only serious problem was that I missed a 9 oclock lecture the next morning. These things happen. I forgot to claim for compensation.

I suppose the delayed flight compensation scheme will disappear at the end of the month.
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[quote="johnE"]
Quote:


I suppose the delayed flight compensation scheme will disappear at the end of the month.


No, as the scheme applies to a flight starting or finishing in the EU (Switzerland has also adopted 261/2004), not necessarily both.
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Quote:

(Switzerland has also adopted 261/2004)

Ah! that was the bit I missed. I suppose it will not apply to flights within the UK or to the Isle of Man. It is probably way down on the list of things to be negotiated. Having UK aircraft and pilots recognised in the EU must be much further up the list.
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@chocksaway, for a flight starting outside but finishing inside the EU, I think it only applies if it is operated by an EU airline. So if we don't end up with some form of deal, it may no longer apply to outbound flights operated by a UK airline. Although I have no idea whether BA, Easyjet, Jet2 etc are still UK airlines or not.
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Having re-read the legalese, that appears to be the case. Will have to hope my flights to GVA are with EZS not EZY!
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I thought BA was a Spanish airline.
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Poster: A snowHead
Markymark29 wrote:
Another great advert for independent travel.....we choose to fly Lufthansa into MUC and/ or Swiss into ZRH, and book when the flights are released to ensure costs are sensible, and have never had any issues, EJ also pretty good, Jet2 at a push but expensive ime and you pay for ski carriage.....you pay your money and take your chance imo, choose to deal with numpties like Crystal/ TUI and don't be surprised if you get treated like one is my thoughts here, sorry but they try to run their services on a shoe-string, fly into remote airports to reduce costs rather than larger hubs, and then people complain when it goes wrong. I haven't looked at flying into Savoie/ Tarentaise for a while, but if I was it'd be GVA or Lyon via EJ, J2 or BA, and not with TO flights, there's simply too much to go wrong, and no contingency when it does.
The problem with this is that if everyone followed your advice demand for those scheduled services into sizeable airports would probably double - and prices would increase significantly (perhaps more than double), even if you book when flights are released.

Cheap flights / cheap airports significantly increase the holiday capacity in the alps - to the extent that some resorts might struggle without them. Most people accept that they mean an increased risk of something going wrong; the issue is whether TOs take adequate steps to deal with the consequences when it happens.
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Quote:

the issue is whether TOs take adequate steps to deal with the consequences when it happens

@ecureuil, Clearly they don't and never have, they don't have the contingencies in place, but more importantly the inclination to do anything when it goes wrong, consequently when it does go wrong then people are up in arms about it and the TO's just shrug their shoulders. If people are cool with that then that's their own choice.
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@Markymark29, the only ski flight I’ve ever had cancelled was a Swiss ZRH-LHR. An overnight and dinner in the nearest Holiday Inn Express and off we went the next day, no issue.
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@johnE, the flight was cancelled and a refund given for the amount paid for the flight. After that point surely it's up to the individual to make and pay for any alternative arrangements. I certainly wasn't offered anything by the airline other than the opportunity to rebook another flight.

In any case, there is no compensation payable for cancellations due to adverse weather conditions.
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Fog at Chambery again, yesterday.

From Gendarmerie de Savoie FB:

Due to the continuing fog, 6 Charter that had to land this morning at Chambéry Airport were diverted: 4 to Lyon-Saint-Exupéry and 2 towards Grenoble.
In connection with tour operators, airport services and the air transport gendarmerie brigade, passengers were taken care of and transported by bus, to Chambéry, Lyon and Grenoble.
Nearly 10 other flights are waiting for this afternoon.

https://www.ledauphine.com/environnement/2020/01/18/aeroport-de-chambery-en-savoie-des-voyageurs-deroutes-ou-cloues-au-sol-a-cause-de-brouillard
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