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 special airline amid a 29-hour delay at Birmingham Airport.
The Tamworth group were as a result of 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 now not be leaving that day. She said some passengers then began to ‘panic’ as they weren’t allowed to go away the gate.
“We were essentially trapped and forgotten about,” said Sharon, who works as a housing manager. “There have been moms 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 principally told we couldn’t leave Gate 53 because we did not 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 beginning. That entire time, there wasn’t a single TUI rep in sight.”
Sharon claimed that passengers got 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 began to turn into agitated, Sharon said. Officers then escorted all passengers back through security, where they were told TUI could be putting people up in a close-by hotel overnight with meals provided.
Sharon says they were notified that night that a flight had been rescheduled to 10.40am the next 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 beginning of our holiday,” said Sharon. “They offered us a £200 voucher which I believe is a bit insulting.
“We have seen reports online where TUI says they kept everyone notified but that’s just not the case. The one TUI rep we were in a position to speak to was on the desk after we eventually got back upstairs to get a coach to the hotel.
“The compensation should reflect the emotional stress and in addition all the cash we spent on the airport including food, our missed transfer in Tenerife and the flight we booked to ensure we’d make it to our holiday. The general experience was just horrific and I’d never fly with TUI again.”
A TUI spokesperson said: “We fully understand the frustration of consumers as a result of 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 may even receive a refund for the missed night of their holiday.”