TUI backtracks on spending cap for customers stranded in Barbados

By Kelly Ranson
Home » TUI backtracks on spending cap for customers stranded in Barbados

TUI has backtracked on a spending cap it gave to passengers who were left stranded in Barbados airport after their flight home was cancelled.

Passengers were originally told they could claim just €180 per household for accommodation and food on the Caribbean island when their flight TOM21 to Gatwick was cancelled on Thursday (7 March) after it was hit by a ground service vehicle transporting disabled passengers.

The Independent reported the 342 passengers were kept on the plane for up to five hours while the airline looked to find accommodation on the island, but it was only secured for crew, families with young children, and older or infirm passengers.

The remainder – who were left to source hotel rooms themselves or sleep on airport chairs – were then sent a note by TUI offering up to €180 per household to help cover any extra costs incurred.

The message reportedly read: “If you manage to find suitable accommodation, we’ll reimburse up to €180 per household to help cover any extra travel, meal, or accommodation costs you may incur.”

One passenger, Mark Pantlin told the Independent: “No TUI staff were seen for at least 45 minutes. We were then told there was not enough hotel space on the island for all.

“TUI then decided to put families with young children, and any disabled and older unwell people in hotels. Everybody else was left sleeping on chairs at night, with no pillows or blankets, and with no news still from TUI.”

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, passenger Toni Agland said: “After checking in at the hotel we received an email stating TUI would reimburse €180 per household for accommodation, food and transport! Had (sic) anyone from TUI tried to book a hotel in Barbados for €180? Communication has been exceptionally poor and the helpline was useless.”

TUI reportedly changed the spending cap to £180 per household, before rescinding and saying there was no cap at all and it had just been issued as ‘guidance’.

A spokesperson told Travel Gossip: “This was intended as a guidance, but we appreciate this could be interpreted in a different way. We will ensure this is updated for any future incidents. We will advise customers that TUI will reimburse reasonable costs.”

Passengers were flown home on another aircraft 24 hours later on Friday evening (8 March).

In an earlier statement, TUI said it was ‘working tirelessly for accommodation options for those affected’.

“We would like to apologise to customers who were due to depart from Bridgetown to London Gatwick on flight TOM21 on 7 March. Unfortunately, in an incident out of our control, the aircraft was damaged as it prepared to depart. For the safety of our customers and crew, all customers disembarked the aircraft.

“We understand how frustrating this is for our customers and apologise for the delay,” TUI said.

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