During my short career with TUI to date I have been lucky (questionable I know) enough to have a front row seat to see how we react when things go wrong at the airport. Having already experienced a diverted flight due to poor weather and been bumped from another flight due to an aircraft “going tech” I probably shouldn’t have been too surprised when events took an unexpected turn at Heraklion airport on Thursday.
Having already spent some time at the airport previously to see our airport team in action and lend a hand I visiting on this occasion to spend some time with our ground handlers and take a tour airside. I was all set to go having had the necessary paperwork rubber stamped when the farmers with their black flags and tractors.
Unknown to any of us at the airport the farmers had planned a strike to protest against a proposed tax on olive oil. Arriving on mass they managed to barricade the road into the airport with as many tractors as they could muster.
With three coach loads of passengers approaching the airport the team were forced to react quickly and it was impressive to see. I was called into action, leading passengers through the road block and safely into the terminal. With the subsequent arrivals things were even trickier as we were directing our passengers to the correct coach alongside countless other operators attempting to do exactly the same thing. This process was then repeated for a further set of flights before the farmers upped and left as quickly as they arrived apparently content with the level of disruption they had achieved.
Looking back on the incident now it was great to once again see how we react positively when faced with difficult situations. It was also clear in the vast majority of cases customers understood the situation was not of our making and appreciated all our efforts in getting in getting them through as quickly and safely as possible.
Lesson learnt? Expect the unexpected in Greece!