A mum has lost out on a £1.5k holiday to Tenerife following a two-day TUI delay nightmare at Manchester Airport. Kelly Clarke and her nine-year-old son Toby were set to fly to Costa Adeje at around 5.50pm on May 30. Despite arriving early, the pair were met with “carnage” inside the terminal, with long queues for restaurants and nowhere to sit down.
The family eventually boarded their flight three hours after its original departure time. They were then held in “boiling hot” conditions onboard for another three hours – with one little boy even vomiting from stress, Kelly claims. Eventually, armed police were forced to board the aircraft and escort all passengers off the plane, she says.
The pair were met with yet more delays as they waited in the baggage claim area for over an hour. Passengers were eventually told their flight had been canceled and that there would be another available the following day.
The family then paid for a taxi home to Stretford at 2am before returning to the airport the following day – only for the nightmare to repeat again. Kelly, 42, told the Manchester Evening News: “It was just absolutely ridiculous – (ground crew) loaded half the bags on and disappeared. The pilot said they had abandoned us.
“We got through passport control and baggage and waited at the baggage area for an hour-and-a-half. There was a woman there trying to deal with us all and said there would be a flight tomorrow.
“The next day we got to the airport at 1pm and went through the whole thing again with delays, no one knew what was going on. We were at the gate for two-and-a-half hours and we could see the baggage next to the plane, no one was loading it. Everyone was watching from the window.
“We saw the baggage get driven away and I thought, that’s it. They’ve ditched us again. Everyone was not happy. Kids were heartbroken; they were crying. It was awful.”
Kelly claims TUI offered passengers yet another flight for the following day – but she refused to take the risk and spend all night worrying. “They said it could potentially happen tomorrow and we’d have another night of no sleep,” she continued. “I said I wasn’t doing it. There was no point in going away for three days.”
Wedding photographer Kelly has since been offered £350 delay compensation but is still awaiting a refund on her package holiday from TUI, which cost around £1,500. “I’ve still heard absolutely nothing from them,” she added. “I can’t get through to TUI at all.”
A spokesperson for TUI said: “We’d like to apologise to customers traveling on flight TOM2106 from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday 30 May, which was unfortunately delayed due to operational issues. We know that last minute delays are incredibly disappointing and we work closely with baggage handlers and airport partners to get customers away on holiday.
“We were in contact with affected customers, offered overnight accommodation and meals where needed, and advised them of their new departure time as soon as we could.
“The start of the half-term holidays was an extremely busy time which put the entire travel industry under pressure, with staff shortages, supply chain issues and general operational disruption adding to the challenges. We can reassure our customers that this was an extraordinary situation , and the majority of our flights are now operating as normal. We’re sorry again for the inconvenience caused.”
A spokesperson for ground services company Swissport added: “We know that people are really excited to go on holiday again after long periods without flying during the pandemic. We’re really sorry about the experience these passengers had on this flight and we’re looking into the specific circumstances to understand what went wrong.
“The post-pandemic return in travel demand is positive news but the current peak travel period is exacerbating resource challenges across the recovering aviation industry. We are working hard to address our resource challenges and have hired 2,800 new colleagues since the start of the year. We will continue to work with our partners to find solutions for this industry-wide issue.”