Didier and his wife Catherine left in mid-August on vacation in the Canary Islands. But the people of Mons had a lot of difficulties getting back to Belgium. They were unable to return on the originally scheduled return flight. TUIfly Belgium has in fact banned Didier from its flights until 2022! The couple, therefore, had to fend for themselves.
Belgian newspaper group Sudpresse relates the story. Didier and his wife Catherine boarded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 registered OO-TMB on 17 August to the Canary Islands for a two week holiday in the sun, but nothing went as planned. The trouble started with the outbound flight (TB1551 from Brussels to Las Palmas). Didier explains that “the man sitting next to me kept complaining. He said that I was drinking and eating on purpose so as not to wear the mask. I did not understand. During the four hour flight, I only drank two drinks.”
Didier’s neighbour decides to call a stewardess. “She asked for my ID card. At first, I refused. But she told me that if I didn’t give it to her, I would be arrested by the police when we arrived in Spain. So I gave my passport. The hostess then spoke to the captain before returning my papers.”
On 23 August, Didier received in his hotel an email from TUI informing him that he would not be able to take the return flight scheduled seven days later: “You will be refused for your flight from Las Palmas to Brussels on 31 August” (TB1552).
The reason? “We were informed by the crew of the outbound flight that you disrupted order and discipline on board, more specifically that you repeatedly refused to follow the crew’s orders and you were aggressive,” explains TUI in the email.
Didier and Catherine had to buy their return flights from another airline, which cost them €507 and find a hotel for two nights before departure for €256. They also had to pay a taxi too the airport for €150.
Today the couple is back in Belgium and had no problems on the return flight.
Didier can no longer board a TUI flight for 6 months, until 23 February 2022.
TUI does not have the same version of events as Didier. “The incident started with a complaint from the passenger who was seated next to Mr. Depireux,” said Sarah Saucin, spokesperson for TUI. “Then, several stewardesses, in turn, asked him to put on his mask. But he never heeded calls to order. The chief cabin attendant then gave him a final warning. He did not respect it, however. The captain then intervened and gave him an official written warning.”
That was not yet the end, according to the airline. “Mr. Depireux threatened to come to blows with the person sitting next to him. This passenger even had to be escorted by police for security upon arrival at the airport. A new warning was therefore sent to Mr. Depireux, this time on the basis of his identity card, resulting in a 6-month flight ban.”
Can Didier, who disputes these assertions, lodge a complaint with the services of TUI? “No, there is no recourse,” replied Sarah Saucin. “The captain acts as the only authority in his plane.”
Source: La Province and Flightradar24