‘Shambles’ as family stranded for 14 hours at airport

A family was left waiting for 14 hours at an airport as their holiday in Cyprus ended with a travel nightmare. Mum-of-four Lisa Mason was on a Tui break and was due to fly back to Manchester Airport.

Things got off to a bad start when they boarded their plane at Larnaca airport an hour late after being told the flight was delayed, StokeonTrentLive reports. It was then a three-hour wait in the plane on the runway before everyone was taken back into the airport.

Lisa, 47, from Wolstanton, said the shambolic situation has ‘completely taken the shine off’ the family’s first holiday since the pandemic. She had booked the break for her and children Holly, aged 21; Poppy, aged 16; Daisy, aged 11 and nine-year-old James at Tui in Newcastle town centre.

Tui has apologised to the affected holidaymakers. The firm said passengers were given vouchers to buy food and drink at the airport and its customer teams would be in touch with them regarding compensation.

The problems started before the holiday, when Lisa’s chosen return flight time was changed from 10.30pm to 1.30am the following morning. Their outgoing flight from Manchester was then delayed by two hours due to ‘baggage handling problems’.

Lisa said: “We had a lovely holiday but when we got to the airport to fly home there were people all around and nobody knew what was going on. A Jet2 flight to Glasgow had been cancelled so some people from that were booked onto our flight. That caused an hour’s delay but that was fine, we understood that.

“We boarded the plane at 1.30am to leave at 2.30am, but we were left sitting there for three hours. Everyone was asking what was going on. We were told there were technical problems.

“My daughter doesn’t like flying at she was getting distressed by it all. Other people were getting really upset.

“It was boiling hot on there. People were asking for water but they said they were low on stock and didn’t have any bottled water. All they could offer was wine, tonic water and ginger beer. They didn’t have any food except crisps.

“People were getting angry and the Tui staff were getting upset too. They were saying they hadn’t got enough staff.”

Lisa says passengers were then told via a tannoy announcement that everyone needed to disembark and go back into the airport. “We were then told that they we would have to stay another night and they would find us accommodation. They were trying to find somewhere to accommodate 200 people.

“They then said the hotels were full. People were ringing the hotels they had stayed in and were told they could go back there, but Tui said if people made their own arrangements it would void their insurance.

“Then they told us they were flying another plane from Manchester to take us home. We were told different things – it was just ridiculous. Everyone was absolutely fuming.

“We were left waiting for hours, people were lying on the floor trying to get some sleep. There was elderly people, a lady with a six-month-old baby, two people in wheelchairs. We were just given a lot of misleading information, nobody knew what was happening. We were basically just stuck.”

Passengers were eventually allowed to board another plane and took off at 3.18pm local time – almost 14 hours after the flight was scheduled to leave. Lisa says the pilot told them the flight had been delayed because there were not enough staff to crew it.

“The pilot told us the crew that had been on the previous night had worked too long and needed 12 hours rest between flights,” said Lisa. “He said we shouldn’t have even been allowed on the plane and he thought we had all been put up in hotels that night.

“It was an absolute shambles. We were supposed to go to Turkey two years ago but it was cancelled due to Covid and this was our first family holiday for a long time. It’s completely and utterly taken the shine off the holiday.”

A spokesman for Tui said: “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to our customers on flight TOM2367 from Larnaca to Manchester, which was delayed due to operational issues.

“The safety and wellbeing of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority, and we would like to thank passengers for their patience and understanding at this time.”