‘Ridiculous TUI shambles’ Children seen sleeping on floor after stranded at airport

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Lisa Mason and her four children, Holly, 21, Poppy, 16, Daisy, 11, and James, nine, had been on holiday in Cyprus and were due to fly back to Manchester when the hold-up began. When the family arrived at Larnaca airport, they were told by staff at TUI that the flight had been delayed and ended up boarding the flight an hour late. Passengers were then left waiting for three hours on board the grounded plane before being told to head back into the airport and left in the departure lounge, with many unaware what was going on. 

Ms Mason, from Staffordshire, has branded the situation a “shambles” and said it caused major “distress” for her children who had been enjoying their first holiday since the pandemic began.

She said: “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 and 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 Mason originally booked the holiday at TUI in Newcastle town centre but said problems started before the holiday had even began.

Ms Mason said passengers were then told via a tannoy announcement that everyone needed to disembark and go back into the airport.

She said: “We were then told that 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.”

Ms Mason and her children found themselves having to sleep on the floor at the airport, before eventually being allowed to board another plane that 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 was not enough staff to crew it.

The family’s return flight time was changed from 10:30pm to 1:30am the following morning, and their outgoing flight from Manchester was then delayed by two hours due to ‘baggage handling problems’.

Ms Mason said the family had a “lovely holiday” but the mix-up has “completely taken the shine off” the family’s first holiday since the pandemic.

She added: “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.

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

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She added: “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.”

TUI has apologised to the affected holidaymakers, and 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.

A spokesman 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.”

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