‘A nightmare from start to finish’: the victims of the UK’s airport chaos

Passengers caught up in the half-term travel chaos who were due to depart from UK airports with a range of airlines have been sharing their stories of cancelled honeymoons, missed sporting events and hastily rearranged plans.

‘It’s the lack of communication’

Price family
Kelly, Wayne, Austin, Stanley and Penny Price.

Kelly Price should have finally been celebrating her honeymoon in Turkey this week with her husband Wayne, their three children, her mother and in-laws, after the trip was cancelled twice during the pandemic.

However, the family from Builth Wells in mid-Wales only made it as far as Birmingham airport, where they spent all of Monday afternoon trying to keep Penny, two, Stanley, three, and Austin, nine, entertained, while their Tui flight to Antalya was delayed for hours.

At around 7.30pm, they were told to expect to fly the following morning instead and were bussed to nearby hotels, where they received texts from Tui telling them their whole holiday had been cancelled.

“It’s the lack of communication,” she said. “If they’d cancelled it as we arrived or whatnot … but it felt a little bit like they waited until we got to the hotel.”

Price, 31, had been looking forward to the 12-night break for the family of eight, which cost £9,500, for a long time. “Yesterday I was in bits, as Austin was asking: ‘Are we going on holiday today?’” she said. “It was making me feel more emotional.”

‘I couldn’t believe it’

Linda and Kevin Jones
Linda and Kevin Jones.

Linda Jones, 50, and her husband Kevin, 53, experienced similar disappointment with Tui. She had booked their trip to Fethiye in Turkey three years ago, to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.

The couple, from Llandudno in north Wales, were due to fly with Tui from Manchester airport on Monday, but were notified by text that their flight was delayed until the next morning.

They were originally told a new flight would be chartered from Bristol to Manchester on Tuesday. However, that evening while staying in a hotel, they received an email saying that flight was cancelled. They returned to Manchester airport the next day, where it was confirmed that the whole £3,400 holiday would not be going ahead.

Jones said: “It was just terrible. I couldn’t believe it. There were other couples and families with us and they were all upset. It was just heartbreaking.”

Left off an overbooked flight

Vivienne and Richard Griggs
Vivienne and Richard Griggs.

Not all of the holiday disruption has been caused by last-minute flight cancellations. The easyJet flight that Vivienne Griggs, 53, and her husband Richard, 56, were supposed to catch on Monday from Manchester to Paris did take off, but without them on board.

Richard gave Vivienne tickets for the Roland Garros tennis tournament as a Christmas present, but on arrival at the airport they were told their flight was overbooked.

They were advised to check their suitcase into the hold in case seats became available. Although they were assured it would not leave without them, the bag flew to Paris, and they are currently trying to get it back.

“It’s not like people are turning up without having booked. They knew how many tickets they had sold,” said Vivienne. “If they had told us on the Sunday, then we would have been able to get there.”

The Bradford couple have been told they will be refunded the £670 cost of their flights, but are unsure whether they will be left out of pocket for the hotel and taxi bookings in Paris that they were unable to use, as well as the tickets for the tennis, or whether their insurance will cover it.

‘A nightmare from start to finish’

Sam Trickey, 25, and his girlfriend, Sofia, 24, had just arrived by train at Gatwick airport on Wednesday morning, where they were due to fly to Larnaca in Cyprus, when they were told by text that their WizzAir flight had been cancelled.

Trickey, who lives in west London and works in procurement, said the whole process had been “a nightmare from start to finish”. The couple have rebooked a Tui flight from Bristol, which should get them to Cyprus on Friday morning.

He added: “It has put me off booking another holiday abroad for a while. The email from WizzAir about the cancellation was abrupt and it’s all been very frustrating.”