Passengers ‘trapped’ in airport amid 29-hour flight delay

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A mother has said delays and complications with a TUI flight to Tenerife “ruined” their family holiday. Sharon Harvey, 58, and relatives, eventually flew out with a different airline amid a 29-hour delay at Birmingham Airport.

The Tamworth group were due to fly with TUI from Birmingham Airport to Tenerife on September 2, reports Birmingham Live. They were initially called to board around three hours behind schedule.

Sharon said other holidaymakers were loaded onto a bus to ferry them to the plane. But just 20 minutes later they were told to return to the gate – and told the flight would no longer be leaving that day. She said some passengers then began to ‘panic’ as they weren’t allowed to leave the gate.

“We were essentially trapped and forgotten about,” said Sharon, who works as a housing manager. “There were mothers with young babies who were unable to feed their babies because they’d run out of formula and disabled people in wheelchairs whose legs were swelling from being sat there so long. People were having panic attacks.

“We were basically told we couldn’t leave Gate 53 because we didn’t have security clearance as we had already checked out for departure. We were about five hours delayed at this point.” She added: “The flight was essentially doomed from the start. That entire time, there wasn’t a single TUI rep in sight.”

Sharon claimed that passengers were given various reasons for the delay and eventual cancellation of the TOM7548, including technical issues, crew hours and fuel shortages. TUI told BirminghamLive that baggage handling delays were behind the disruption, and said the airline “kept customers updated throughout”.

Police were eventually called to the gate after some passengers started to become agitated, Sharon said. Officers then escorted all passengers back through security, where they were told TUI would be putting people up in a nearby hotel overnight with meals provided.

Sharon says they were notified that night that a flight had been rescheduled to 10.40am the following day – 29 hours behind schedule. But by then her group, which included her husband, sister and 26-year-old son, had already booked seats on a Ryanair flight leaving earlier that morning.

“It ruined the start of our holiday,” said Sharon. “They offered us a £200 voucher which I think is a bit insulting.

“We’ve seen reports online where TUI says they kept everyone notified but that is just not the case. The only TUI rep we were able to speak to was at the desk after we eventually got back upstairs to get a coach to the hotel.

“The compensation should reflect the emotional stress and also all the money we spent at the airport including food, our missed transfer in Tenerife and the flight we booked to guarantee we would make it to our holiday. The overall experience was just horrific and I would never fly with TUI again.”

A TUI spokesperson said: “We fully understand the frustration of customers due to travel from Birmingham to Tenerife on September 2. Unfortunately, baggage handling delays meant the crew ran out of their regulated maximum working hours so the flight was delayed overnight.

“We kept customers updated throughout and provided overnight accommodation and refreshments. Customers who travelled on this flight are entitled to EU261 compensation and will also receive a refund for the missed night of their holiday.”

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