Tour company, customs dispute delayed flight


British tour company Thomas Cook on Thursday assigned part of the blame for a weekend charter flight from Manchester, England, that landed about 32 hours late at McCarran International Airport, on the local U.S. Customs and Border Protection outpost.

According to an account in the Manchester Evening News, Cook encountered mechanical problems on one of its Airbus A330s scheduled to depart and arrive on Nov. 10. Because of the delays, the airline said it missed its landing slot allocated by the agency and was turned down for a different time.

That tells only a small part of the story, according to Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz. Cook had requested an arrival time in the early morning hours of Nov. 11, well beyond the normal shutdown time of 10 p.m., so the agency moved them to the regular hours the same day.

This came after Cook had blown two previously announced arrival times, Ruiz said, even though the agency had brought in inspectors on overtime to handle it. The early-morning request came while the plane was still on the ground in Manchester, raising questions about missing that promised arrival time again.

The agency then decided to not run up yet more overtime and accepted them during regular hours on Nov. 11.

The flight normally takes 10 hours, 35 minutes. The plane carried 315 people, many of whom saw their plans to attend weddings or fulfill "dream vacations" derailed by the delay, the Manchester paper reported.

Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

 

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