TUI 737 Stops In Tunisia To Drop Off Aircraft Part

TUI 737 Stops In Tunisia To Drop Off Aircraft Part

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An intra-Europe TUI flight made an interesting stop on another continent this weekend, which you don’t often see…

TUI flight arrives four hours late due to extra stop

This incident happened on Saturday, August 5, 2023, and involves TUI flight BY4651 from Lamezia Terme, Italy (SUF), to London Gatwick, United Kingdom (LGW), which had 189 passengers onboard. The 1,162-mile flight was blocked at three hours, and was supposed to depart at 12PM and arrive at 2PM (with a one hour time change). The flight was operated by a five-year-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 with the registration code G-TUMS.

Well, the flight didn’t end up operating as scheduled. Instead the flight ended up making a stop in Enfidha, Tunisia (NBE), which isn’t exactly on the way. In total, this caused a roughly four hour delay in the arrival to London. The reason? Another TUI flight had a maintenance issue, so this TUI aircraft delivered a spare aircraft part for the other one.

How exactly did this play out?

  • First the aircraft was delayed by roughly two hours on departure (perhaps to wait for the spare part that was needed)
  • Then the aircraft operated the 374-mile flight from Lamezia Terme to Enfidha in roughly one hour
  • Then the aircraft spent roughly an hour on the ground, presumably refueling and unloading the part
  • Then the aircraft operated the 1,166-mile flight from Enfidha to London in roughly three hours

While the aircraft was supposed to arrive at 2PM, it ended up landing in London at 6:13PM.

On the plus side, on the morning of the flight, TUI warned passengers of the scheduled stop in Tunisia. So at least there was communication in advance regarding this. Nonetheless this was no doubt a huge inconvenience to everyone onboard, as the three hour flight turned into a five hour flight (plus a two hour delay on departure).

The TUI flight from Italy to Tunisia
The TUI flight from Tunisia to the United Kingdom

TUI’s impressive explanation of what happened

Following the incident, a TUI spokesperson issued the following statement to the Independent:

“We can confirm that flight BY4651 made a short stop at Enfidha-Hammamet Airport in order to drop off equipment required at the airport for another aircraft. The equipment was for the TOM529 aircraft, which suffered a technical issue prior to its departure, and needed engineering support.”

“We’d like to apologise again for any inconvenience caused and thank customers for their patience and understanding. All customers were given a complimentary drink on board as a gesture of goodwill and all will be entitled to claim EU261 flight delay compensation.”

My jaw is on the floor, as I’m so impressed by this statement. Did an airline really proactively put out a statement saying that passengers are entitled to EU261 compensation?!? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before…

Under the EU261 regulations, passengers on a flight of this length who are delayed by three or more hours are entitled to €400 each in compensation. So if all 189 passengers were to claim EU261 compensation, that would be worth €75,600. However, it’s unlikely that all passengers will request that.

I’m impressed by how TUI handled this situation

Bottom line

A TUI Boeing 737 scheduled to fly from Italy to the United Kingdom made a stop in Tunisia over the weekend, in order to drop off an aircraft part for another TUI flight that had a mechanical issue. The planned three hour flight ended up taking a total of over seven hours, including a two hour delay on departure, in addition to the five hours that passengers spent onboard.

While no doubt a huge inconvenience for passengers, I commend the airline for getting creative with finding an extra part, and minimizing the disruption for those in Tunisia. Furthermore, TUI deserves a Skytrax 5-star rating (or something) for publicly saying that passengers are entitled to EU261 compensation.

What do you make of this TUI Boeing 737’s stop?

Conversations (16)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    Would not have been happy if I was on that flight. A huge inconvenience. Just saying you can claim the compensation does not mean you get it. You have to apply for it. It is not automatic.

  2. NaxM Guest

    Wonder how many Brexiteers will claim compensation under EU 261

  3. Greg Guest

    Well, no. They are entitled to claim it - the airline didn't confirm or deny that they are entitled to it, just to claim it. I can claim that I am the president of the Gambia, but that doesn't make me one.

    1. DCharlie Guest

      Wow! The President of Gambia frequents OMAAT!

    2. Alan Diamond

      Yet in today's wokeness, if you claim you are the president of the Gambia, I am obliged to agree with you and address you as such. Which pronoun would you prefer I use to address you as such?

  4. jallan Gold

    Wouldn't it have been cheaper to ship it DHL or something?

    1. red_robbo Guest

      Yes, of course it would have been cheaper. That's not rocket science.
      But if you've got an aircraft stuck on the ground with up to 200 passengers, especially at a location with limited facilities, and potentially affecting the flights for many hundreds of passengers due to fly on subsequent flights by the unserviceable aircraft, a good airline doesn't spare the expense. This decision will have made good commercial sense, both financially and from an...

      Yes, of course it would have been cheaper. That's not rocket science.
      But if you've got an aircraft stuck on the ground with up to 200 passengers, especially at a location with limited facilities, and potentially affecting the flights for many hundreds of passengers due to fly on subsequent flights by the unserviceable aircraft, a good airline doesn't spare the expense. This decision will have made good commercial sense, both financially and from an overall customer service perspective.

  5. Alan Diamond

    I had a similar even occur on Amtrak of all places. A locomotive from a few days prior had had an accident with a vehicle and was unable to continue. Our train stopped to pick up the broken locomotive; it took well over two hours, and you can guess what compensation we were given. Absolutely nothing!

  6. Christian Guest

    "Did an airline really proactively put out a statement saying that passengers are entitled to EU261 compensation?!? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before…" <-- it's also in EU261 that you MUST inform your passengers about their options when there is a delay.

    1. Callum Guest

      Which is effectively unenforced. The standard way to "inform customers" is to have a small footnote hidden on the website, and a sticker with small print at the check-in desk.

      I'm not aware of any airline that actually tells it's customers "you have been delayed - fill out this form and we'll give you hundreds of Euros".

  7. DenB Diamond

    I disagree, Ben. They don't get credit for "saying" pax get EU compensation. They "said" it in a press release and it would be true whether or not they said so.

    1. callum Guest

      Given it's a level of customer service no other airline provides, yes, they do get credit.

      Obviously it's true either way, but releasing that statement makes it more likely that people will claim it.

    2. Andy Diamond

      Well, I think we need to consider the customer base of TUIfly: They are almost exclusively carrying pax who booked package tours - mostly through TUItravel. In most jurisdictions package tours enjoy an extra level of consumer protection. So denying compensation would only shift the burden inside the TUI group to an entity which had no influence whatsoever.

  8. Gtellez Guest

    At least they only spent 5h in the aircraft. On June 25, the first time I was flying with them (and the last) from Manchester to Cancun we spent 19h on the plane… worst experience ever and it was very poorly managed.
    After 2-3h in the air, there was a medical emergency, so the flight got diverted to Shannon. We were supposed to continue from there, but finally the crew time out and the...

    At least they only spent 5h in the aircraft. On June 25, the first time I was flying with them (and the last) from Manchester to Cancun we spent 19h on the plane… worst experience ever and it was very poorly managed.
    After 2-3h in the air, there was a medical emergency, so the flight got diverted to Shannon. We were supposed to continue from there, but finally the crew time out and the airline took the decision to fly us back to Manchester to replace the crew (after 3h on the tarmac in SNN). Then, we spent another 2.5 to 3h in Manchester (we were not allowed to disembark) before departing again to CUN, after more than 8h already in the plane. After the diversion was announced, they decided to offer us the afternoon tea (I didnt eat it as it was disgusting) that was supposed to be the second meal service; after that we only received the hot meal in the final flight to CUN, around 10 hours after initially boarding. Everybody was starving. We didn’t receive a second meal in that flight neither.
    Overall a really unpleasant experience. Thank God that at least I was sitting in Premium Economy in the first row. I would have rather disembark in Manchester and fly the next day, but they did not give us that option.
    Obviously no compensation as it was a medical emergency…

    1. Holger Guest

      Would have been a case of EU261, maybe not the time for the medical emergency, but 3 hours at SNN waiting, then 3 hours in MAN, these are not caused by the medical issue, but that's operational...

    2. red_robbo Guest

      I disagree. It's not as simple as you claim. The whole problem would have been a direct consequence of the initial medical issue. But for that, the crew would not have gone out of hours and the additional diversion for crew replacement would not have been required.

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callum Guest

Given it's a level of customer service no other airline provides, yes, they do get credit. Obviously it's true either way, but releasing that statement makes it more likely that people will claim it.

2
DCharlie Guest

Wow! The President of Gambia frequents OMAAT!

1
Callum Guest

Which is effectively unenforced. The standard way to "inform customers" is to have a small footnote hidden on the website, and a sticker with small print at the check-in desk. I'm not aware of any airline that actually tells it's customers "you have been delayed - fill out this form and we'll give you hundreds of Euros".

1
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