A couple are facing a £4,000 loss after their entire holiday was canceled via text message while waiting at the departure gate to board their flight.
Steven Hession, 45, and his wife Kerrie found themselves caught up in travel chaos at Manchester Airport when they received an 11-hour message.
They were due to fly to Kos, Greece, with their two children for a two-week stay on Saturday for a family wedding.
But after hours of delays and chaos, the Blackburn family reached the departure gate, only to receive a text message from airline TUI informing them their flight and holiday had been canceled due to “significant operational disruptions”.
The father of two tells LancsLive that they left home around 11am and arrived at the airport half an hour later for the 3:25pm flight with TUI, but were greeted with long delays and queues stretching from one terminal to the other.
Undeterred, they queued with all the other passengers, only to receive a last-minute text message from the airline at the departure gate nearly four hours after the scheduled departure time, telling them that the flight and their vacation were cancelled became.
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The text message sent to Steven’s wife Kerrie informs them the cancellation is due to “significant operational disruptions” and means the entire holiday will be cancelled. It apologizes for the inconvenience and disappointment, says that compensation per person is available, as well as a refund voucher and that a full refund of the total cost of the booking will be given within 14 days.
Steven, who works for British Gas, said: “We flew to Kos along with about 40 other people because my wife’s brother, who is also from Blackburn, is due to get married so we all flew from different parts of Kos to the United Kingdom. It was awful; Even arriving to check in at Terminal 2, the queues stretched back to Terminal 1.
“After many hours of delay, we were at the gate just after 7pm and there was no staff there, but then we saw the cabin crew going to the plane, which put our minds at ease. But then we heard people crying… and everyone got this text message at the same time saying unfortunately your holiday has been cancelled. Click this link to receive a refund within 14 days.
He claims no one from the company came to confront the angry passengers, instead the police at the airport spoke to them. Their ordeal wasn’t over, however, as he claims the passengers were then stranded at the departure gate for a few hours as they were officially between departure and arrival.
He said: “We were stranded on arrival at Manchester Airport as they couldn’t get us back through Arrivals and they couldn’t let us through Departures because we hadn’t left so they had to escort us out.” Eventually they got after escorted outside and had to go through security again before facing another chaotic scene to get their luggage back.
He added: “When we got to the carousel there was nobody there and we didn’t know where our luggage was. Then they said the bags would come out at number eight and it turned out it was number two so everyone ran across the airport. You could see people’s luggage from the night before – it was a guessing game about flights and suitcases.”
Kind friends turned up in the middle of the night to take the disappointed family back to Blackburn, meaning they got back home just after midnight, almost 13 hours after leaving home in what they believe was an amazing two weeks would become abroad.
But her ordeal was to continue just hours later when a fire ripped through an old mill that was near her home.
Lanc’s Live WS)
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Steven said: “Obviously we were supposed to be in Kos but we weren’t so we got the kids down and watched Britain’s Got Talent and then we saw three or four fire engines fly down and look out the window, couldn’t see anything, but we thought it was smelly and thought someone was going to grill so we closed the windows. Then someone sent us a screenshot of LancsLive and said oh my god did you see what happened?”
Luckily the bride and groom managed to fly to Kos on Sunday and Steven booked new flights for himself and his family in time for the wedding. He is due to fly from Newcastle and his wife and children from Leeds Bradford Airport on Wednesday at a significant additional cost.
But he says questions hang over their accommodation when they get there and they could lose their refund if they manage to find some. He added: “Now that we have the flights it’s a gamble because our hotel is full as it’s half term… the TUI rep tells people if they show up it means your holiday is valid, so you may not receive a refund.
“The holiday itself cost four grand and I’ve spent a grand on new flights and around £200 on minibuses for them. If we get to the hotel, it could be that they have a place to stay and take care of us and pay the extra cost, or it could be another three or four grand.”
He added: “It was a nightmare at the airport with scenes of chaos and huge queues and now the nightmare is not over. Luckily we have family and friends out there. So if there are problems on arrival it should be fine for one night although not ideal then it’s a matter of credit card and booking website. It’s not good for your mental health to be sent home after packing and all that excitement… if it wasn’t for the wedding we would have booked a holiday to the UK so the kids could make the most of half term.”
A Tui spokesman said: “We would like to apologize to some of our customers who have experienced flight delays over the past few days. The May half-year break is always an incredibly busy time with many customers wanting to get away and this year is no different. We understand that many of our customers have been looking forward to these holidays as it is the first peak period in more than two years not impacted by border closures and mass testing requirements. Our priority is always to attract customers safely on vacation.
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“Unfortunately, while flight delays and cancellations are rare for us, the sudden increase in holidaymakers combined with various operational and supply chain issues has meant that a small number of our flights have been impacted. Our teams have worked tirelessly to support affected customers by communicating directly and providing accommodation and transfers where needed, as well as meals and refreshments.
“As the UK’s largest holiday company, we take millions of customers on holiday every year and most of our flights depart as planned. Our flight program today is not affected by cancellations.
“We continue to work closely with our airport partners to monitor the situation and offer our customers the best possible holiday experience. We would like to thank them for their patience and understanding at this time.”
A Manchester Airport spokesman said: “We are aware of the challenges faced by a number of airlines and handling agents, leading to delays in check-in and baggage claim for some passengers. Airlines and their ground handlers are responsible for their own check-in and baggage handling services. Passengers are advised to contact their airline with questions or concerns about these issues or anything related to their flight, who will be best placed to respond.
“However, this is not the experience we would like passengers to have at Manchester Airport and we are sorry to hear that customers have faced disruption. We are in contact with the senior management teams of the relevant airlines and ground handlers to understand the root cause of these issues and to support their efforts to resolve them as quickly as possible.
“Our colleagues are standing by in the terminal to assist customers and we are working hard to keep security check queues to a minimum. It remains our advice that passengers should arrive three hours before their flight and prepare as much as possible for their journey through the airport.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/couples-anger-4000-tui-holiday-27106039 Couple anger as £4,000 TUI holiday canceled via text message at airport departure gate