Reporter: Tony Shaw
The trip started out with the usual early AM drive to Manchester, little did I know what was to unfold at the airport. The queue to the check in took around 2 hours to get through to the front desk and then another 20 minutes to get the skis booked in. Security was another disaster and took a further 40 minutes to get through which significantly reduced the time we could’ve been in the airport lounge we had booked. However, one on the other side we chilled out and waited for the flight. Unfortunately, due to a MAG misunderstanding with TUI no boarding notifications were issued out and the flight was delayed as passengers were late boarding. In summary the whole Manchester Airport experience was shocking.
Once we arrived at Chambery we were greeted with the usual inefficient offloading of the baggage and coach chaos. The misery of Chambery was added to with the additional COVID paperwork measures. But once on the coach we were all happy, that is until the coach driver decided to take as long as he possibly could to reach the resort not helped with huge traffic jams. I wish this was just the end of the despair but alas we were greeted by a Crystal representative who told us we had to transport our own luggage up the hill from the coach park either by hand or wait for the minibus to take the gear up in groups of five. Upon arrival at the hotel it took an inordinately long time to check in which the staff didn’t appear up to the job. We eventually arrived at our room and was surprised to find a double bed, luckily I managed to split the bed up but others were not as fortunate.
From door to door it took 15 hours for myself. Overall, it was a shambles.
The skiing throughout the week was reasonable with very different weather and strange light conditions possibly due to the Sahara sand in the snow. A number of accidents and injuries occurred in the week which I must admit did alter my focus and views on speed versus conditions but overall the skiing was enjoyable with the company of others.
On the return journey I was thinking as we boarded the coaches that it couldn’t be as bad as the inbound, however, I was wrong. We were notified mid journey that the flight had been diverted to Lyon, what a surprise. One coach was diverted directly to Lyon causing issues for the Gatwick flight and the other coach went direct to Chambery, we had to unload luggage at Chambery and fight with the Crystal representatives to secure our transport to Lyon, they honestly didn’t have a clue.
We eventually arrived at Lyon where we queued for what seemed like hours, we were told that our aircraft had developed technical issues and a new one had been dispatched from Gatwick. It eventually arrived at Manchester to collect the inbound customers and then off to Lyon to transport our group. I’m not going to lie, the new aircraft was amazing and took 1 hr 20 mins from Lyon to Manchester but due to staffing issues in Manchester it nearly took two hours to receive our luggage at the other end, Swissport being the culprit. Again, a complete shambles. The group should receive compensation for the delay, but it is no consolation after that kind of journey and being exposed to additional COVID risks stuck in long queues and waiting around in vehicles outside the aircraft for an excessive time.
From door to door it took 14 hours for myself. Overall, a complete mess.
We had (as expected now) a number of COVID cases within the group and higher number of cases on the return home. This is probably the normal situation on holidays from now on.
The trip despite the travel situation was actually fun and enjoyable, the hotel was different in many ways but I don’t believe we will be returning to this accommodation again but the resort definitely. Scary that the snow conditions are poor this season both in Cervinia and Tignes, something to be concerned about for the future.