Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Travel trials

So, with the current situation with Thomas Cook going on I guess this entry is quite topical. As you know I have just come back from a holiday to Agadir in Morocco. Due to a variety of reasons I visited the resort with my parents, quite a brave feat some of you may argue.

In order to get to said resort we went on a package holiday which happened to be with First Choice holidays. You may or may not be aware but Thomson and First Choice are now part of the same TUI Group and so have pretty much taken over the holiday market. On booking the trip we went with the First Choice option as it appeared to be slightly cheaper for the same holiday for some reason.

Anyway as per usual, what happened on the flight? Of course, I got stuck behind some moron who insisted on moving non-stop in their seats and moved their seat so far back they may as well have just spent the whole journey on my lap! What made this worse was the fact that the aircraft was so bad – some of the faux leather seats were ripped, apparently in-flight entertainment on short-haul flights stops as of 1st November and there was literally no leg room. What a joke – if there had been a crash there is no way on earth you could have adopted the ‘brace’ position – unless you were some sort of elf!

My other complaint – which to be fair is out of a holiday company’s control is the weather. Now, those who have seen me since I’ve returned will laugh as I am quite tanned after my holiday. However, each day saw a misty start for a few hours and many days were cloudy and temperatures were a lot lower than we expected. We also had quite a bit of rain. A couple of years ago I visited a Greek island in September for a fortnight which saw rain nearly every day. Both instances highlight to me just how climate change clearly is having an impact now as wherever you go on holiday (for the sun) you really cannot guarantee what you’ll be met with.

I also learnt that as I am getting older I really want to see the real country and visit the real people and their lives. I loved my stay and for a relaxing break it was great, but I do feel that I could have done more with my time there and regret not visiting more true Moroccan places – such as Marrakech. Granted, we went for a break in the sun and only being there a week a two day trip to Marrakech may not have been ideal. Staying in an all-inclusive hotel is such great value and I couldn’t fault our accommodation or the staff who worked there, yet as I argued to my parents you could be anywhere in the world if you always stay in these robotic factory-line type hotels. I need to see the real country.

On the journey home the check in procedure was a joke, I believe some of the machinery wasn’t working and so wrongly printed tickets were issued and huge queues were the result. Obviously people can’t help things going wrong like this; however the attitude of the check-in staff was pretty poor I must admit. They just took their time and saw no rush in trying to get the queue shortened or speed things up.

So, overall not the best experience from a holiday company. However, yet again showing how good customer service can help situations – as per an earlier post – on the flight home I somehow stupidly managed to drop my cardigan from the boarding gate to the plane. The staff on board allowed me to go back and check for the cardigan but I couldn’t find it. On returning to the plane one of the flight attendants asked me to describe the item of clothing and went out of her way to go and make more checks. A few minutes after sitting down she turned up with my cardigan, somebody must have handed it in after all. Just going that bit further actually cheered me up after discovering that the legroom was – if possible – even tighter than the journey there.

To be honest though with the news that Thomas Cook is having financial difficulties – the amount of choice we have between what big holiday companies to go with on package holidays is really not going to be there. So will these firms bother to make an effort and impress us or will these seasonal cutbacks and a lack of effort become more commonplace?

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