Pilot calls POLICE to help passengers flee Tui jet after being ‘abandoned’ for THREE HOURS

Pilot calls POLICE to free him and scores of passengers from plane ‘abandoned’ by ground staff at Manchester Airport as holiday chaos grows yet further with mother and child stranded in terminal for 22 hours and ministers at war with industry bosses

The pilot called police to help hundreds of passengers disembark the plane as it was sat on the tarmacFamilies were stuck on the ‘abandoned’ TUI flight for three hours at Manchester Airport, due to fly to TenerifeGround crew who took so long to load luggage that the flight was cancelled, with no staff to help people offIt comes as a mother was stranded at Gatwick for 22 hours with five-year-old son due to overbooked planeOthers had dream holidays cancelled at the departure gate by text and bags left 1,100-miles away

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A pilot was forced to call the police to help hundreds of passengers disembark an ‘abandoned’ plane after they were left sat on the runway for three hours due to staff shortages.

Holidaymakers were left onboard the aircraft at Manchester Airport on Monday evening, with the TUI flight due to take-off for Tenerife, before officers were called in by the exasperated crew.

Families had already been delayed by a few hours in boarding the plane, which was due to depart at 5.50pm, eventually getting into the craft at 7pm.

Ground crew took so long to load luggage that the flight was cancelled, before ‘abandoning’ them on the tarmac. 

Passengers were then stuck waiting side the hot plane for three hours before being helped off the aircraft by police by 10pm.

It comes as half-term travel chaos left as a mother was stranded at Gatwick Airport for 22 hours with her five-year-old son, due to an overbooked flight. And others had dream holidays cancelled by text at the departure gate, with some holidaymakers’ bags being left 1,100-miles away. 

And transport secretary Grant Shapps said airport and travel firms bosses needed to do more to help customers – as he insisted the government had ‘done their bit’. 

This evening, passengers on a British Airways flight that had landed at Heathrow Airport were encouraged to Tweet the company for help after the lack of ground crew meant no one could bring stairs to the plane’s doors.

Yesterday, EasyJet cancelled 42 Gatwick flights, British Airways scrapped some of its departures and TUI said that it will cancel six flights a day from Manchester Airport throughout June. 

Passengers waiting to board a Manchester flight to Greece were told by an armed police officer that their flight was cancelled — after an eight hour delay. 

Police were called to help hundreds of passengers disembark an ‘abandoned’ plane after they were left sat on the runway for three hours

Adam Wyczalkowski, 22, was due to fly on the TUI craft to the Spanish island with friends for a four-night trip.

He said that people onboard were becoming ‘frustrated and angry’ with the situation.

‘There was not a single member of staff in sight, so the captain informed us they will be calling the police in order to let us disembark,’ he told the Manchester Evening News.

‘It is so hot and there is no air con on and we were only offered a complimentary drink.’

In a video filmed on board, the pilot can be heard telling passengers ‘Swissport have abandoned us’. 

Mr Wyczalkowski said that passengers were told their bags were being loaded on to the plane by Swissport’s ground crew — before being told that only half had been stowed.

‘We were then told all the staff had then disappeared, and the captain told us all that due to crew hour regulations, the flight might get cancelled in the end,’ he told the news site.

TUI confirmed that ‘operational issues’ had delayed the flight, and said that all customers were given a new departure time on Tuesday, as well as an overnight stay in a hotel.

A spokesperson for the company said: ‘We’d like to apologise to customers travelling on flight TOM2106 from Manchester to Tenerife on Monday 30 May which was unfortunately delayed due to operational issues. 

Passenger Adam Wyczalkowski said that people onboard were becoming ‘frustrated and angry’ with the situation

‘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. This flight is now due to depart this evening.

‘The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different. 

‘We’d like to apologise again for the inconvenience caused and we thank customers for their understanding and patience during this time.’

A spokesperson for Swissport apologised for the company’s ‘part in any delays’, explaining that flight demand is ‘exacerbating resource challenges’ in the aviation industry.

‘While the return in flight volumes after the serious impact of the pandemic is undoubtedly a positive development, it is also exacerbating resource challenges across the aviation industry, including at Swissport, especially at a busy period of holiday travel,’ they said.

‘We are very sorry for our part in any delays and disruption passengers have experienced.

‘We’re doing everything we can to address our role in meeting our resource challenges, welcoming over 2,000 new colleagues since the start of the year, and we continue to work with our partners to identify contingency measures and improve baggage and aircraft turnaround times.’

Yesterday afternoon, Manchester Airport said that bosses are having ‘extensive discussions’ with both TUI and Swissport, which are both ‘experiencing temporary staffing shortages’.

It was police, not TUI staff, who were sent in to tell weary passengers at Manchester Airport that their entire holiday to Greece was cancelled and they had to leave

It comes as passengers waiting to board a TUI Manchester flight to Greece were told by an armed police officer that their flight was cancelled — after an eight hour delay. 

He read families a statement, saying: ‘What’s going to happen is this — you’re all going to get a full refund for the holiday you have purchased.

‘There is also going to be a £350 per person worth of compensation. You will also get a £200 holiday voucher per person to go on another holiday.’

In Gatwick Airport, Charli Harris, 36, from Devon, said that her honeymoon was ruined after easyJet cancelled her flight to Rome less than three hours before take-off — with no other flights available for at least 48 hours, The Daily Telegraph reported. 

It said that another passenger had to wait three days for an available flight, after theirs was cancelled.  

And plans for the summer holidays could also be at risk, after travel bosses said that the couldn’t guarantee flights in July.

One man said that he has been warned about possible problems with his TUI flights in late July, during the school holidays.

‘Millions of families are desperate for some sunshine. But this admission that they can’t guarantee our flights in late July shows this isn’t just a problem for this half-term,’ the father told The Sun. 

On Friday, a mother was left stranded at Gatwick airport for 22 hours after being kicked off a plane because it was too full.

Charlie Day, 33, from Chelmsford, Essex, was marched through security three times due to the repeated cancellations and said at one point passengers were stuck in a waiting room without food, water or toilet access due to the airport chaos.

She had arrived on Friday morning with her husband Lewis and five-year-old son Ernie ahead of their 2.30pm flight to Barcelona.

Their boarding passes were missing seat numbers, and then discovered that the flight had been overbooked by 34 seats when queuing up to board.

Mrs Day, who runs her own business Charlie Day Sales, claims there was no representative from Spanish airline Vueling to ease anxieties around the flight.

‘I would just urge others not to book with the airline – they have been outrageous,’ she said.     

It comes as Brits are facing a summer of airport chaos amid chronic staffing shortages and IT glitches.

Shocking scenes from around the country in recent weeks have shown holidaymakers stuck in huge queues with some forced to sleep on the floor of airports amid long delays. 

Industry chiefs have pointed the finger at mass layoffs during the pandemic which saw staff let go because of the collapse in demand for travel during the various lockdowns.

Airlines are now struggling to rehire workers previously let go, leading to a shortage of security staff, ground handlers and check-in staff.

Industry sources say staffing levels are around 80 to 90 per cent of where they need to be for the peak summer season at larger airports and about 70 per cent at smaller ones.

Some workers have also decided to quit the industry and not return following the pandemic, it has been suggested. 

Another issue has been the vetting of new staff, with background checks taking several weeks. 

Unions and aviation chiefs say the security check backlog could be approaching 20,000 applications. 

Meanwhile, the UK is facing a labour shortage, with more vacancies than workers available to fill them. This has led to suggestions that potential airport staff recruits are unwilling to accept lower wages and more demanding roles.

Meanwhile, Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, called for an investigation into claims airlines are selling more tickets than they can service.

Rory Boland, the travel editor of consumer group Which? said that the government must intervene to make sure airlines stop selling flights ‘they can’t actually provide’.

He told The Times: ‘We’re already seeing very long queues, widespread chaos at airports, huge stress for people planning to get away, and we haven’t hit the peak yet.

Passengers at Stansted Airport sleeping at the airport overnight due to flight cancelations and excessive delays during the half term weekend

‘Airports and airlines have known this recovery was coming for a period of time now. We’re continuing to see things get worse, not better.’

But airport bosses says queues have been exacerbated by passengers turning up earlier than normal from the early hours.

Paul Charles, of travel consultancy The PC Agency, previously said that Covid travel restrictions led to a ‘destruction of talent through job losses’.

Kully Sandhu, managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network, said: ‘In my opinion, it could be up to 12 months before we see staffing at airports back to pre-pandemic levels. Recruitment for people at airports takes longer than roles elsewhere because of necessary, additional security and background checks.

‘Routine recruitment campaigns ground to halt during the pandemic and have been slow to start again as international travel has had a number of restrictions on it until recently. That means the recruitment pipeline was cut off and needs to be re-established.

‘Aviation has lost its appeal, not only for returners but also for people who have never worked in an airport environment before.’

Airlines are now asking travellers to arrive earlier for their flights – contributing to the long queues seen at airports. 

Meanwhile, some experts have discussed the long delays in vetting new recruits, adding to the chaos. 

The Unite union said there are ‘chronic staff shortages across the board’, and that ‘current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet’, adding: ‘It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff.’

Union officials added that many airport staff are being asked to work extra hours, and ‘relying on staff overtime to run the business can’t be a long-term solution’.

GMB’s national secretary, Andy Prendergast, told The Daily Telegraph that ‘airports and operators need to offer fair wages and plan for peaks in demand.’  

And Garry Graham, from Prospect union, said that travel disruptions ‘could get worse before they get better’. 

Experts said that airlines ‘are simply unable to cope with that demand due to a lack of resources’ and warned that the ‘nightmare’ disruption could last all year.

BA has axed hundreds of flights up on some routes to the US and the Far East until September, affecting thousands of travellers after it had already cancelled more than 1,000 flights in little more than three weeks.

Industry experts have also pointed the finger at security checks for issues with staff numbers, with vetting for new staff taking up to twice as long as the 14 weeks it is supposed to. They also believe that loss of thousands of experienced staff who were laid off during the pandemic has had an impact, with many not returning after finding jobs elsewhere. 

 SARAH VINE: The shambles unfolding in airports up and down the country is shameful… The greed of airlines has made holidays sheer hell

BySarah Vine for the Daily Mail

Excuse me if today’s column seems a little skew-whiff. I didn’t get to bed until gone 4am, and had to be up again at 7am.

But I’m one of the lucky ones: at least I crawled between the sheets at home before passing out like a starfish for three hours. Many had to make do with a grubby floor.

No, I haven’t been whooping it up in a nightclub or reliving my misspent youth. I was doing what thousands of other Britons like to do every now and then: have a few days abroad, in this case Italy.

But it seems getting on a plane that not only takes off vaguely on time but also reaches its destination is about as likely as J.K. Rowling being invited to speak at Stonewall’s AGM.

Actually, I have no right to complain. Compared with what some poor souls have had to endure, my experience was positively VIP. Sure, my easyJet flight was delayed repeatedly at Pisa airport where, for reasons best known to the Italians, all the food outlets shut at 7.30pm, leaving delayed families nothing to eat or drink but Duty-Free Smarties, Camel Lights and warm limoncello.

Fun if you’re heading to Ibiza on a three-day bender — but it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Passengers queue for flights at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday amid ‘chaos’ at airports across the UK

Travellers queue to check in for their flights at Gatwick Airport, with holidaymakers facing continuing disruptions due to cancellations and lack of airport staff

That was a picnic, however, compared with the scenes in Britain, which make tin-pot operations such as Pisa look positively state-of-the-art.

The shambles unfolding in airports up and down the country is not just shocking, it’s shameful.

Families stranded, children in tears, people exhausted and stressed out. Holidays they’ve been looking forward to — saving for, dreaming about — up in smoke.

Police drafted in to tell passengers their holidays are cancelled, people too anxious to go to the loo in case they lose their spot in line. And everywhere, crushing disappointment.

That little bit of joy in their lives — the one thing that’s kept them going — ruined, and all because a greedy bunch of airline bosses couldn’t do their jobs properly.

I mean, what did they think was going to happen? It’s the first proper school holiday since Covid travel restrictions were lifted; it’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; we’ve been locked up for two years. Surely it doesn’t take a genius to predict a surge in passenger numbers.

As for the airlines that have recruited new staff, they must have known that, in the aftermath of Covid, obtaining security clearance for them would take months rather than weeks.

None of this is the fault of airline staff. They’re just the foot-soldiers, as stressed and exhausted as the rest of us. Since it’s their colleagues’ jobs that were cut, it’s they who are having to take up the slack.

Waiting in line in front of an empty check-in desk at Pisa on Monday evening, I asked a young woman in a high-vis jacket if she worked for easyJet. ‘Unfortunately I do,’ she replied, in terms too colourful for a family newspaper.

The captain and crew on our flight couldn’t have been more professional. But it’s out of their hands.

Passengers waiting in queues at Manchester Airport on Tuesday, another to have been impacted by huge delays

Instead of recruiting the number of people required to deal with the inevitable post-Covid surge in demand for air travel, it seems the airlines and airport bosses decided to chance things and do it on the cheap: an approach that’s not only venal, but also very stupid.

It’s not as though they’re giving these flights away, either. Prices are through the roof, plus all the extras. I paid £170 to check in three bags on our way home (my daughter had embarked on a forensic exploration of the second-hand clothes stores near Florence). Three teas on the flight cost ¤9. To be honest, by that stage I would cheerfully have parted with a kidney in exchange for a cuppa, but you know what I mean.

When people hand over their hard-earned cash, they should get what they’ve paid for and not be treated as though they are the ones who have done something wrong.

To want a few days away from the stresses and strains of everyday life is not a criminal offence. But taking people’s money — and then treating them with such cavalier disregard and lack of respect — should be.

  Mother is stranded at Gatwick for 22 HOURS with her five-year-old son after being kicked off overbooked plane – as thousands of holidays are cancelled 

A mother has claimed she was left stranded at Gatwick airport for 22 hours after being kicked off a plane because it was too full.

Charlie Day, 33, from Chelmsford, Essex, was marched through security three times due to the repeated cancellations and said at one point passengers were stuck in a waiting room without food, water or toilet access due to the airport chaos.

She had arrived on Friday morning with her husband Lewis and five-year-old son Ernie ahead of their 2.30pm flight to Barcelona.

When checking in, Mrs Day noticed her family’s boarding passes were missing a seat number but was told by a member of staff that airlines had recently stopped including that information.

Despite the well-travelled mother-of-one questioning the apparent boarding pass change, she made her way through security, only later to discover the flight had been overbooked by 34 seats when queuing up to board.

The family were forced to march through security to then check-in again for a 9.45pm flight later that evening. Having waited seven hours for the rescheduled flights, the gate didn’t open until midnight.

Dozens of passengers were left waiting without food, water and access to a toilet for the next 90 minutes, only to be sent an email at 1.30am telling them the flight had been cancelled.

Mrs Day, who runs her own business Charlie Day Sales, claims there was no representative from Spanish airline Vueling to ease anxieties around the flight.

She then paid £30 for an Uber to get to a £140 Premier Inn room, so her son could get three hours sleep, while Mr Day waited an hour to collect their baggage.

The flight was rescheduled again for 9am, only for the gate to be changed 13 minutes before departure – on the other side of the terminal.

Having eventually boarded after a 22-hour wait, there was then a 45-minute delay on the runway before passengers could jet off to Spain.

‘I would just urge others not to book with the airline – they have been outrageous,’ Mrs Day said.

Charlie Day, 33, from Chelmsford, Essex, was marched through security three times due to the repeated cancellations and said at one point passengers were stuck in a waiting room without food, water or toilet access due to the airport chaos

She had arrived on Friday morning with her husband Lewis and five-year-old son Ernie ahead of their 2.30pm flight to Barcelona

The family were forced to march through security to then check-in again for a 9.45pm flight later that evening. Having waited seven hours for the rescheduled flights, the gate didn’t open until midnight

Dozens of passengers were left waiting without food, water and access to a toilet for the next 90 minutes, only to be sent an email at 1.30am telling them the flight had been cancelled

Charlie, who runs her own business Charlie Day Sales, claims there was no representative from Spanish airline Vueling to ease anxieties around the flight

The flight was rescheduled again for 9am, only for the gate to be changed 13 minutes before departure – on the other side of the terminal

Having eventually boarded after a 22-hour wait, there was then a 45-minute delay on the runway before passengers could jet off to Spain

At Manchester Airport a co-pilot, called Simon, loaded luggage on to a 32-hour delayed flight on Monday

‘The conditions were just inhumane especially when travelling with a five-year-old. When we first arrived, we had left plenty of time and there was a bit of queueing but nothing too crazy.

‘But when flights started getting cancelled it became jam packed. Everything was delayed. People were just flocking to Wetherspoons and there were dirty plates and glasses pilled everywhere.

‘There was a 40-minute wait for Wagamama. It was just really hectic. When we were waiting for the second flight people were becoming really irate.

‘Some had been in Wetherspoons for hours to pass the time so were a bit restless. We were told we couldn’t leave the room you wait in while waiting to board.

‘There was no access to food, water or even a toilet. And everyone had been waiting around for so long.

‘At no point did a Vueling representative come out to apologise or even to hand out water. There were babies, toddlers and pensioners waiting to board.

‘When the email came through to say it was cancelled, we were just so knackered. I had to phone around 12 hotels before we eventually found somewhere to stay for the night.

‘But there were people there who couldn’t find anywhere and had to sleep on the floor for the night.

‘When we went to get the flight the third time, the gate was changed 13 minutes before departure on the other side of the terminal.

‘People just didn’t believe anything the airline was telling them so there was just a stampede to the other gate.’

Charlie, Lewis and Ernie eventually arrived in Barcelona at 3pm on Saturday, before boarding their week-long Royal Carribean cruise around the Mediterranean.

Although they have been rewarded £523 each in compensation, she says the cost of getting food at the 22-hour airport stay, missed wages from the two days off work along with a missed stay at the hotel in Barcelona has caused distress.

Charlie added: ‘We missed out on a whole day exploring in Barcelona. And we were running on just three hours sleep.

‘I just can’t believe how Vueling just didn’t offer anything in terms of customer care.’

A spokesman for Vueling said: ‘On Friday there were several operational issues which impacted the scheduling of our outgoing flights.

‘This affected our operations over the weekend. We always strive to offer a timely service, however, if this isn’t possible our priority is to organise the best alternatives for our customers.

‘Our team at Gatwick worked diligently to resolve these issues and our customer service team is in touch with those affected by the delays.’

Gatwick airport have been approached for comment.

Meanwhile, at Manchester Airport a co-pilot, called Simon, loaded luggage on to a 32-hour delayed flight on Monday.

Jenny Cook, from Warrington, Cheshire, who was on the Tui flight to Crete, told the BBC: ‘He said “even my co-pilot is loading bags” so we looked out of the window and there he was.

‘The next thing we knew we were taxing to the runway. We were all cheering. Simon had gone above and beyond.

‘As a HR director, employee recognition is key, after all the negative press Tui has had recently and the journey we had been on, we were all taken aback on what Simon had done. I think Tui need to do something to recognise Simon.’

Mum, 49, left in Alicante with only £25 after Manchester Airport loses her suitcase 

A woman was left with only the clothes on her back and £25 cashback on holiday after her suitcase was lost.

Zena Williams, 49, was flying out to Alicante for a trip to Benidorm when she witnessed first-hand the much reported chaos at Manchester Airport. 

She said she had heard the nightmare tales, but little did she know that she would become the subject of one herself when she arrived in Spain and her suitcase was nowhere to be seen. 

Zena, who was travelling with daughter Charlotte, who was taking part in a dance group event, also missed the transfer into Benidorm from the airport as she tried to find her suitcase with the help of Spanish airport staff. 

She eventually discovered the suitcase, containing both her belongings and items her daughter needed to dance in, was still at Manchester Airport. 

She was then told by staff that Manchester Airport would send the suitcase on the next possible flight, though two days later there was still no sign. 

Zena Williams (pictured left with her daughter), 49, was flying out to Alicante for a trip to Benidorm when she witnessed first-hand the much reported chaos at Manchester Airport

The mum-of-one told said: ‘The flight was due to take off at 7pm so it was an early evening flight, but check in was absolutely atrocious. 

‘It was self check in but it just wasn’t registering any suitcases and even one of the members of staff just said “good luck because it’s chaos here”. 

‘We got through security side but the staff just didn’t have a clue what they were doing. It was like they’d just been brought in off the street. 

‘When we got into Alicante I had no suitcase. Alicante airport managed to find out that it’d been left in Manchester and Manchester said they would put it on the next flight out to Alicante. They said that it’d be on the flight on Sunday. 

‘But by Sunday it was still in Manchester. So I literally only had the clothes I came in. At first I thought that it’s okay because surely it’ll be on the next flight. 

‘Then when it didn’t arrive I was thinking “oh my lord”. The dread hit me, just thinking everything I had was in that suitcase. It was just awful.’

She continued: ‘Afterwards, when we’d been trying to find it the transport into Benidorm from the airport had gone and left us. 

‘So we had to then pay a taxi to get into Benidorm and we got told that I won’t get any money but that I’d be able to claim £25 cashback for the 24-48 hours without a suitcase. But what can £25 buy? Nothing. 

‘I felt physically sick. I know it’s only a suitcase and lots and lots of things are going on in the world but I just felt like part of me had been ripped away. I’m angry and I’m disgusted at the way the airport is running at the moment I just don’t understand why they can’t get it right. Okay, we have been through a pandemic but it’s beyond belief. 

‘A friend of mine who was also going on holiday said their suitcase has gone to Gran Canaria, but she was flying out to Portugal. It doesn’t make sense does it.’

After weeks of disruption at several terminals, Manchester Airport issued a response to the on-going chaos. It said: ‘We are aware of the challenge being faced by a number of airlines and handling agents, which is leading to delays at check-in and baggage reclaim for some passengers. 

‘Airlines and their ground handlers are responsible for their own check-in and baggage handling services. Passengers are advised to direct any questions or concerns about these issues, or anything relating to their flight, to their airline, who will be best placed to respond.

‘However, this is not the experience we want passengers to have at Manchester Airport and we are sorry to hear customers have faced disruption. We are in contact with the senior management teams of the relevant airlines and ground handlers to understand the cause of these issues, and to support their efforts to resolve them as quickly as possible. 

‘Our colleagues are on hand in the terminal to provide assistance to customers and we are working hard to ensure security waiting times are as quick as possible. It remains our advice that passengers should arrive three hours before their flight and be as prepared as they can be for their journey through the airport.’

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It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps demanded a meeting with aviation bosses to find out ‘what’s gone wrong’ as travel chaos worsens across the country, and called for reassurances over the summer holiday period.

‘It’s been very distressing to see passengers having plans for well-earned holidays cancelled and left in disarray. Industry leaders need to tackle the issues head-on,’ he told The Daily Telegraph. 

Airlines continued to axe flights on Tuesday with passengers forced to wait for hours at airports including Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick and Bristol. 

Heathrow passengers trying to board their flights claimed they had ‘never’ seen queues as long as those on Tuesday morning. 

Passengers have been hit by disruption for several months, with the situation worsening this week due to the rise in demand sparked by the half-term school holiday and the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday period. 

The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages after laying thousands of people off during the coronavirus pandemic and is struggling to recruit more. 

Airlines and airports repeatedly called for more financial support during the Covid-19 crisis as Government restrictions suppressed demand. 

In a statement on Tuesday evening, Mr Shapps said the Government had ‘done its part’, adding that airlines and ground handlers need to ensure there is no more disruption. 

Mr Shapps referred to the £8 billion given to the aviation industry during the pandemic as well as legislation he introduced last month which allows new aviation recruits to begin training before passing security checks. 

He said: ‘It’s been very distressing to see passengers facing yet more disruption at airports – having well-earned holidays cancelled and plans left in disarray. 

‘We’ve been clear that industry leaders need to tackle the issues we saw at Easter head-on. Although some steps have been taken, we are still not seeing the progress we need to.’

He said the Government ‘will be meeting with airports, airlines and ground handlers again to find out what’s gone wrong and how they are planning to end the current run of cancellations and delays’. 

He added that operators ‘seriously oversold flights and holidays relative to their capacity to deliver’ despite Government warnings. 

‘Government has done its part,’ he said. ‘It is now on airports, airlines and ground handlers to make sure everyone’s well-deserved holidays can go ahead free from the major disruption we’ve seen in recent days.’

Gatwick: Tired travellers lay on the carousel at the West Sussex airport as they wait for their bags to arrive in chaotic scenes

Rishi Sunak yesterday reminded Britain’s creaking airlines and airports they took billions from the taxpayer during the pandemic and easing half term disruption must be their focus as experts told MailOnline that the crisis will only get worse through the Platinum Jubilee weekend and will peak on Monday. 

MPs have urged the aviation industry to ‘get a grip now’ as airlines face an investigation into claims they sold flights and holidays for the half term week without the air crew and check-in staff to cope with tens of thousands hit with delays or cancellations.

Mr Sunak has insisted the Government is working with the airlines and airports to reduce disruption and delays – amid a furious blame game between ministers and industry leaders as holidaymakers complained about being left ‘abandoned’ with some flights cancelled minutes before their expected departure.

‘We put in place billions of pounds of support for the travel industry in particular during the pandemic,’ the Chancellor said, adding: ‘Right now there are conversations happening between the industry and ministers to make sure disruption can be eased. That is where the focus is right now’.

With 6,000 flights to and from Britain scheduled over the weekend, peaking at just under 7,000 on Monday, the problems are predicted to be even more dire – coupled with a two-day Tube strike on June 6 and June 7 that will cripple London’s Underground network as people return home and to work.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told MailOnline: ‘It’s for travel firms themselves to get themselves in order. Sadly, I think it will get worse because were reaching its peak in a few days. Monday is scheduled to be the busiest day since 2019, with 2,864 departures from the UK, and the same number of inbound flights – it will be the busiest day since before the pandemic.’ 

This afternoon TUI took the decision to cut 43 flights a week – 186 in total through June carrying 37,000 passengers from Manchester – just hours after an extraordinary video emerged revealing two police officers were drafted in to tell their irate customers their holiday to Kos was now cancelled as they queued to board the plane.

The airline, which decided to cut 8,000 jobs during the pandemic and furloughed 11,000 of its staff, said in a statement: ‘We would like to apologise to our customers who have experienced flight disruption in recent days and understand that they have been looking forward to these holidays for a long time.

‘The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking to get away, and this year is no different. Unfortunately, due to ongoing challenges in our operation, we have had to announce a small number of planned cancellations between now and 30 June from Manchester Airport only.

‘We are directly contacting all impacted customers in departure date order and they will automatically receive a full refund’.

For the past four days millions of Britons have suffered long queues at airport check-in and some even brought pillows and duvets knowing they would be forced to sleep on terminal floors. Others passed out on baggage carousels while waiting hours for their suitcases, some of which never arrived and are still missing more than 100 hours later due to a lack of ground staff.

Those caught up in the carnage have described shops selling out of food and water and people being too frightened to go to the toilet in case they lose their place in the queues snaking around terminals at Manchester, Stansted, Birmingham, Bristol, Gatwick and Heathrow in conditions described as ‘hell’.

And many arrived at the airport or even at the gate to learn their flight had been delayed for hours or cancelled completely. Some dumped their suitcases in lockers at check-in and ran for security with hand luggage to avoid missing their flights.

The delays also spread to Eurostar at London St Pancras yesterday where queues for check-in and security stretched for close to half a mile.

Tens of thousands of Britons fear their plans to jet abroad for the long weekend could now be in jeopardy after hundreds of flights were delayed or cancelled, in some cases just as they were about to board.

And a furious blame game has erupted as ministers blamed airlines and airports for the mayhem – while unions and aviation chiefs insisted the Government ‘hasn’t prepared’ for the rise in demand for travel and has failed to clear a backlog of security checks for new workers, which insiders claim could be approaching 20,000 applications.

Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, told the Evening Standard: ‘They [the aviation industry] need to get a grip and now. They risk harming their industry’s reputation for years to come as well as destroying the holiday plans of thousands of Britons.’ He also called for an investigation into claims airlines are selling more tickets than they can service.

Transport minister Andrew Stephenson said yesterday: ‘It is for the airports to plan and recruit enough people in order to deal with the significant increases in people flying which we have been expecting for some time’.

But Labour MP Rupa Haq, vice chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation, said: ‘They [ministers] need to get a grip and face up to the fact that their botched Brexit has caused unprecedented vacancies in the aviation sector’.

Long queues outside St Pancras yesterday as passengers faced delays of an hour at check-in

There has been chaos, confusion and cancellations at the majority of the UK’s airports over the past four days as families try to get away for half term and the jubilee, with 6,000-plus flights to and from Britain due each day peaking next Monday. There have also been long delays at Dover for drivers heading to France and delays at St Pancras for Eurostar services to the continent.

Couple spend four days without baggage 

Paris Nedderman, 23, and her 28-year-old boyfriend James Palmer left for Bologna in southern Italy on the morning of May 28.

Legal reviewer Paris Nedderman and James Palmer were left waiting for their luggage for four days after it got ‘stuck’ at Manchester Airport – but never received any communication from carrier Ryanair to tell them what had happened. 

Ms Nedderman, 23, and her 28-year-old boyfriend left for Bologna in southern Italy on the morning of May 28. 

She described Manchester Airport as an ‘absolute shambles with minimal staff, huge queues, broken conveyor belts and a lack of organisation’.

After arriving at Bologna Airport, the couple and around 60 other passengers spent three hours waiting to be told what had happened to their luggage. 

‘The lady at the lost baggage desk informed us that ”the conveyor belt broke” in Manchester so they still had our luggage,’ she told MailOnline. 

‘Kids were crying and parents were anxious as they knew they would have to bear the expense of having to buy lots of new clothes, suncream and whatever else was in their case.

‘During our time in Bologna we spent over 200 euros on clothing for the week because we did not know when we would get our bags back due to the lack of communication.

‘We are now on day 4, and have only just received a call from Bologna Airport to say that the case has been received and they will get it on the next flight to us. Still no call from Manchester Airport or Ryanair, we are disgusted.’    

MailOnline has contacted Manchester Airport and Ryanair for comment.   

 

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Kully Sandhu, managing director of Aviation Recruitment Network, said: ‘In my opinion, it could be up to 12 months before we see staffing at airports back to pre-pandemic levels. Recruitment for people at airports takes longer than roles elsewhere because of necessary, additional security and background checks’. 

As travel chaos wrecked travel plans for the jubilee and half term, it emerged yesterday:

Thousands have their breaks delayed, disrupted or destroyed due to staff shortages at airports and airlines;MPs have accused carriers of selling tickets they cannot honour and plan to launch investigation into the chaos;Airlines blame a lack of crew and ground staff caused by a delay in the Government completing security checks of new staff;

Student Isabelle Gray, 27, told the Evening Standard that checking in at Gatwick yesterday was ‘hell on wheels’.

She said: ‘I arrived here just after 5am and queued for almost 2 hours to check my bag in, the queue was about 500 deep and there was one person at the check in desk. Some people next to me were thinking of putting their suitcase in a locker and running to the gate with just hand luggage.’ 

Airlines and airports have been blamed for the carnage having slashed staff during the pandemic while hoovering up furlough payments and state aid.  Now they do not have enough workers to cope  – and cannot find people to fill often low-paid vacancies – as the numbers booking foreign holidays over the Platinum Jubilee week and through the summer months hit pre-pandemic levels.

Jayesh Patel, whose half term break to Kos had been two years in the planning, said there was anger and tears as two policemen arrived to read a statement from TUI, moments after they began receiving texts telling them their flight and package breaks would not go ahead. 

He told the BBC yesterday: ‘The airport was understaffed, a lot of the outlets had ran out of food or closed at 6pm. We got called to the gate for the 7pm take off – four hours late. There was no staff. 

‘People were very upset – some were going on their honeymoon. And then we all started getting texts that the flight was now cancelled and because it was a package booking the whole holiday was cancelled’.

He added: ‘The worst part that there was no Tui staff to help. And then two police officers arrived and read a statement telling us how we would exit the airport. Because the airplane hadn’t arrived from anywhere, our flight wasn’t listed at any of the baggage carousels so we didn’t know where to wait – people were visibly upset and children were crying. We then had to wait another couple of hours and at this point, we’d spent the whole day at the airport and just wanted to leave. ‘

Steven Hession, 45, was also supposed to be flying to Kos on Saturday with his wife, Kerrie, and their two children for a fortnight and an upcoming family wedding. 

But after hours of delays and chaos, the family got to the departure gate only to get a text message from airline TUI informing them that their flight and holiday had been cancelled due to ‘significant operational disruption’ – believed to be a missing pilot.

He said: ‘After many hours of delays, we were at the boarding gate just after 7pm and there was no staff one there, but then we saw the cabin crew walking through to the plane, which made us feel reassured. But then we heard people crying… and everyone got this text at the same time saying unfortunately, your holiday has been cancelled, click this link to get a refund within 14 days.’

Steven Hession, 45, enjoys some fizz as he heads to Manchester Airport with his family for a £4,000 two week break to the Greek island of Kos. Hours later, after long delays, the entire break was axed

Heathrow: Queues to enter Terminal 2 this morning as travel chaos is set to continue

Manchester: Row after row of uncollected luggage at the north-west airport that has suffered problems for weeks

Manchester: The lines left terminal and into the car park at 4.30am this morning

Bristol: Passengers have been queuing through the night as they try to get through airports that are lacking staff to cope

Bristol: There were lines snaking around the terminal at 3.30am yesterday

Birmingham: Regional airports are missing up to a third of the staff they had before the pandemic with airlines and airports accused of pure greed

Her Disney bag packed, Autumn McManus, five, was beaming, left, at Manchester airport ready for her first foreign holiday. But her smiles turned to tears, right, after the trip to Turkey with her mum was cancelled after their flight was axed. 

Britain’s travel crisis will peak next week and is predicted to continue for the entire summer.

Chronic staffing shortages, IT glitches and extraordinary demand is causing the delays and chaos at airports

Pictured: Stansted. Passengers sleeping at the airport overnight due to flight cancelations and excessive delays during the half term weekend in to travel hell for many passengers hoping for a first holiday in two years

By Danny Hussain 

Brits are facing a summer of airport chaos amid chronic staffing shortages and IT glitches.

Shocking scenes from around the country in recent weeks have shown holidaymakers stuck in huge queues with some forced to sleep on the floor of airports amid long delays. 

Industry chiefs have pointed the finger at mass layoffs during the pandemic which saw staff let go because of the collapse in demand for travel during the various lockdowns.

Airlines are now struggling to rehire workers previously let go, leading to a shortage of security staff, ground handlers and check-in staff.

Industry sources say staffing levels are around 80 to 90 per cent of where they need to be for the peak summer season at larger airports and about 70 per cent at smaller ones.

Some workers have also decided to quit the industry and not return following the pandemic, it has been suggested. 

Another issue has been the vetting of new staff, with background checks taking several weeks. 

Unions and aviation chiefs say the security check backlog could be approaching 20,000 applications. 

 

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A Government source told The Times: ‘The simple fact is that airlines and airports overcut staff during the pandemic, ignoring the fact that the billions of pounds of aid — including furlough — handed out by the government was meant to protect those very jobs.

‘Operators are now struggling to meet increasingly busy schedules as we move towards the first Covid-free summer since 2019 — a wholly foreseeable surge in bookings that should have been adequately prepared for.

‘The responsibility for maintaining adequate staffing levels lies with the airlines and airports themselves. Not only are they causing huge frustration to their customers, they are missing out on the benefits of the strong recovery in foreign travel.’

Ministers have been accused of failing to ‘step up’ as holidaymakers using UK airports continue to suffer major disruption.

Shadow financial secretary to the Treasury James Murray claimed the Government ‘hasn’t prepared’ for the rise in demand for travel.

A spokeswoman for the Government insisted the aviation industry is ‘responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand’.

Airline passengers have been hit by cancellations and long delays at airports for several months, with the situation appearing to worsen this week during the half-term school holiday and ahead of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday period.

EasyJet and British Airways are cancelling flights every day, while passengers at airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Bristol are reporting long delays.

The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages after thousands were let go during the coronavirus pandemic.

Many airlines and airports repeatedly called for more financial support due to the collapse in demand for travel caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

They are now struggling to recruit new workers and have their security checks processed.

Labour MP Mr Murray told Sky News: ‘We’ve been warning for months throughout the Covid pandemic that you can’t just let the airline industry and airports fall over, let them shed all of their staff, and then expect to get back on track when demand comes back after the pandemic.

‘We were warning about this, trade unions were warning about this, employee representatives were saying throughout the Covid pandemic, ‘You need a sector-specific package to support the aviation sector’, and now we’re seeing what’s happened because the Government hasn’t prepared for what would obviously come next.’

Arts minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay acknowledged that cancelled flights and long queues at UK airports are ‘causing a lot of distress for people, particularly in half-term’.

Asked about Government action over the airport disruption, he told Sky News: ‘Colleagues in the Department for Transport are working with the industry. We have been for months urging them to make sure they’ve got enough staff so that, thanks to the success of the vaccine rollout, as people are able to travel again, that people can take the holidays that they’ve missed and that they’ve deserved and of course it’s causing a lot of distress for people, particularly in half-term, people with family and children with them.

‘It’s very distressing if you turn up at the airport and your flight isn’t ready, so we’ve been saying to the industry that they need to prepare for this, they need to have the staff that they need to make sure people can get away and enjoy holidays.’

Yet more havoc looms as BA staff threaten to strike

By David Churchill Transport Editor 

British Airways customers were yesterday warned they face a summer of chaos as hundreds of staff threaten to strike.

Two unions representing check-in staff – GMB and Unite – are balloting members in a row over pay.

Staff at Heathrow Airport took a 10 per cent pay cut during the pandemic and are demanding their full salaries are reinstated. Without any check-in staff, most flights will likely be grounded.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘British Airways used the cover of Covid to brutally cut members’ pay. BA has now reversed the pay cuts imposed on management but refuses to do this for our members. This is disgraceful.

‘Unite will not allow our members to be treated as a second-class workforce.’

Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, said: ‘BA forced our members into pay cuts during the pandemic. It is their time to claim back what is theirs.’ Strikes could begin by July and continue into August.

BA said the majority of staff accepted a ‘generous’ one-off lump sum equivalent to 10 per cent of their salary. But check-in staff rejected this because it meant taking a long-term pay cut.

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Transport workers trade union Unite also blamed the aviation chiefs for their mass-sackings during the Covid-19 pandemic, describing the airport chaos as a ‘crisis of their own making’.

The general secretary at Unite, Sharon Graham, told The Mirror that the chaos is to ‘last the entire summer season’: ‘During the pandemic, when airline operators and others in aviation slashed jobs to boost corporate profits, we warned this corporate greed would cause chaos in the industry.

‘The aftermath of mass sackings is now chronic staff shortages across the board. Aviation chiefs need to come clean with the public. This is a crisis of their making.

‘We are determined that workers will not pay for this crisis. Current pay and conditions in the industry are so poor that workers are voting with their feet. It can only be resolved by offering higher wages and better working conditions for staff. Unite is utterly determined to fight for that.’

Rory Boland, the travel editor of consumer group Which? said that the government must intervene to make sure airlines stop selling flights ‘they can’t actually provide’.

He told The Times: ‘We’re already seeing very long queues, widespread chaos at airports, huge stress for people planning to get away, and we haven’t hit the peak yet.

‘Airports and airlines have known this recovery was coming for a period of time now. We’re continuing to see things get worse, not better.’

Airlines cancelled dozens more flights on Sunday and yesterday, forcing some travellers to lie down on airport floors while resting.

Half-term sun-seekers were pictured laying on floors at Stansted Airport following disruption and lengthy queues.

Snaking queues also formed outside Bristol and Gatwick airports from 4am yesterday.

It comes following chaotic scenes at Manchester Airport over the weekend when hundreds of Tui passengers were told their holidays had been cancelled after an eight-hour wait.

Industry sources say staffing levels are around 80 to 90 per cent of where they need to be for the peak summer season at larger airports and about 70 per cent at smaller ones.

But airport bosses insist queues have also been exacerbated by passengers turning up earlier than normal from the early hours, with most of the carnage cleared by yesterday afternoon.

Ministers are facing calls to slash more red tape to help travel firms recruit staff quicker in a bid to avoid similar scenes throughout the summer after they slashed thousands of jobs during the pandemic.

But British Airways travellers were warned they face a summer of chaos as two unions representing check-in staff – GMB and UNITE – said they have started balloting members on strike action in a row over pay.

A six-year-old girl was left in tears from ‘exhaustion’ after she and her family were stranded on their half-term holiday in Cyprus after TUI cancelled their flights twice – as a travel expert warns the travel chaos in UK airports is only set to get worse. Glenda Powell, 40, from Bristol, took to social media on Sunday night where she shared an image of her ‘exhausted’ six-year-old daughter, Freya, crying (pictured) because she is unable to return to the UK

Another family was left devastated after their first holiday since the Covid pandemic was cancelled by TUI as they waited to board their flight. Anna Saunders, pictured with her husband Matthew, and kids Eva and Jack

Holiday firm TUI sent a crushing text message after delaying the flight saying the family’s entire trip – costing £5,200 – was cancelled for ‘operational reasons’ – code for a lack of staff

Hundreds of staff at Heathrow Airport took a 10 per cent pay cut during the pandemic and are demanding their full salaries are reinstated amid cost-of-living pressures and passenger numbers surging again after the pandemic.

Without any check-in staff, most flights will likely be grounded.

It comes after easyJet announced it was cancelling at least 200 flights over the half-term holidays, which started yesterday, affecting around 30,000 passengers.

EasyJet axed 32 flights yesterday while British Airways cancelled another 140. BA says the cancellations were made weeks ago and that customers were given plenty of notice.

Like queues at airports, the cancellations are fuelled by staff shortages.

Some airlines and airports have also struggled to recruit new staff since all Covid travel restrictions were dropped by the Government in March.

Operators like BA and easyJet slashed thousands of jobs during the pandemic, which critics say was too many.

Bosses at Bristol Airport said its bottlenecks were being caused by people turning up five hours early for their flights.

But passengers hit back and said the ‘morning rush hour’, during which dozens of flights left before 8am, was simply more than staff could cope with.

One Bristol passenger wrote online: ‘Only half the security lanes open and not fast track.

‘Two hours to get through. Queues started 300m on road outside.’ One father, who booked with airline Vueling, claimed his young teenage son was forced to fly ahead of him due to the flight being overbooked.

He posted: ‘Anyone thinking about booking to fly with @vueling think again. They consistently overbook flights so your flight is not guaranteed.

‘Waiting nearly 6 hours at Gatwick airport and counting.’

Gatwick: One holidaymaker with binoculars found wherever he could to sit after long delays

Birmingham: Holidaymakers wait for their bags at 11.30pm, with no sign of them arriving

Manchester: Holidaymakers queue for check-in at the Tui desks at just after 7am yesterday

Heathrow: Terminal 5, home of British Airways, was also very busy this morning

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last month announced new laws so travel firms can begin training new recruits before they complete security checks.

New rules mean they can also write a letter to HMRC asking them to confirm employment histories, which form part of the checks.

However, industry leaders say they are still taking around four to five weeks to complete.

Boss of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, said the Government changes were ‘limited’ and called on ministers to go further by allowing aviation employers to access HMRC records.

He told the Mail: ‘Currently it can take weeks if not months to validate someone’s employment.

‘Quite often we have to do five years of checks for background employment and for some people that might be ten or 15 employers over that time.

‘The HMRC change, accessing their records, would take the amount of time down from about four weeks to four minutes. It’s not too late to make that change.’

Asked about the fiasco yesterday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘We recognise that passengers are understandably frustrated and upset by the delays in some cases and flight cancellations and other disruptions.

‘We want everyone to be able to travel as freely and easily as possible and we want to see the travel and aviation sector bounce back from the pandemic.

‘What we saw what we saw over the weekend is an exceptionally high number of people travelling, which has meant that airports and other ports have been exceptionally busy.

‘We will continue to work with the aviation industry and port sector and be clear with them that we want to see disruption reduced to a minimum that includes working with them in terms of recruitment.’

Separately, a Government spokesman said: ‘The aviation industry is responsible for making sure they have enough staff to meet demand, and we have been clear that they must step up recruitment to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum.’

Brits caught up in airport carnage reveal their travel nightmares: Dream holidays cancelled at the departure gate by TEXT, bags left 1,100-miles away with no warning and one member of staff for a 500-deep queue

Brits caught up in the ongoing chaos at airports revealed their horror stories yesterday, from dream holidays cancelled at the departure gate by text and going without luggage for four days with no warning to standing in a 500-deep queue with one member of staff. 

There has been chaos, confusion and cancellations at the majority of the UK’s airports over the past four days as families try to get away for half term and the jubilee, with 6,000-plus flights to and from Britain due each day peaking next Monday. 

There have also been long delays at Dover for drivers heading to France and delays at St Pancras for Eurostar services to the continent.

People have queued through the night to check-in while some brought pillows and duvets knowing they would be forced to sleep on terminal floors. Others slept on baggage carousels while waiting hours for their suitcases, some of which never arrived and are missing 96 hours later.

Airlines and airports have been blamed for the carnage having slashed staff during the pandemic while hoovering up furlough payments and state aid. Now they do not have enough workers to cope – and cannot find people to fill often low-paid vacancies – as the numbers booking foreign holidays over the Platinum Jubilee week and through the summer months hit pre-pandemic levels. 

Below is a snapshot of how the chaos is affecting passengers. 

Couple spend four days without baggage  

Legal reviewer Paris Nedderman and James Palmer were left waiting for their luggage for four days after it got ‘stuck’ at Manchester Airport – but never received any communication from carrier Ryanair to tell them what had happened. 

Ms Nedderman, 23, and her 28-year-old boyfriend left for Bologna in southern Italy on the morning of May 28. 

She described Manchester Airport as an ‘absolute shambles with minimal staff, huge queues, broken conveyor belts and a lack of organisation’.

Paris Nedderman, 23, and her 28-year-old boyfriend James Palmer left for Bologna in southern Italy on the morning of May 28.

After arriving at Bologna Airport, the couple and around 60 other passengers spent three hours waiting to be told what had happened to their luggage. 

‘The lady at the lost baggage desk informed us that ”the conveyor belt broke” in Manchester so they still had our luggage,’ she told MailOnline. 

‘Kids were crying and parents were anxious as they knew they would have to bear the expense of having to buy lots of new clothes, suncream and whatever else was in their case.

‘During our time in Bologna we spent over 200 euros on clothing for the week because we did not know when we would get our bags back due to the lack of communication.

‘We are now on day 4, and have only just received a call from Bologna Airport to say that the case has been received and they will get it on the next flight to us. Still no call from Manchester Airport or Ryanair, we are disgusted.’    

MailOnline has contacted Manchester Airport and Ryanair for comment.   

Family fear they could be left £4,000 out of pocket 

Steven Hession, 45, was supposed to be flying from Manchester Airport to Kos on Saturday with his wife, Kerrie, and their two children for a fortnight and an upcoming family wedding.

But after hours of delays and chaos, the family got to the departure gate only to get a text message from airline TUI informing them that their flight and holiday had been cancelled due to ‘significant operational disruption’ – believed to be a missing pilot.  

Mr Hession, from Blackburn, Lancashire, said: ‘It was horrendous; even on arrival to check in at Terminal 2, the queues were stretching right back to Terminal 1.

‘After many hours of delays, we were at the boarding gate just after 7pm and there was no staff one there, but then we saw the cabin crew walking through to the plane, which made us feel reassured.

‘But then we heard people crying… and everyone got this text at the same time saying unfortunately, your holiday has been cancelled, click this link to get a refund within 14 days.’ 

Steven Hession, 45, enjoys some fizz as he heads to Manchester Airport with his family for a £4,000 two week break to the Greek island of Kos. Hours later, after long delays, the entire break was axed

Kind friends turned up in the middle of the night to take the disappointed family back to Blackburn, meaning that they arrived back home just after midnight, almost 13 hours after they had left home for what they thought would be an amazing fortnight overseas.

Fortunately, the bride and groom managed to fly out to Kos on Sunday, and Mr Hession booked new flights for himself and his family in time for the wedding.

He is due to fly from Newcastle on Wednesday, and his wife and children from Leeds Bradford Airport, at considerable extra cost.

But he says questions hang over their accommodation when they get there, and that if they do manage to find some, they could lose their refund.

Mr Hession added: ‘Now that we have got the flights, it’s a gamble because our hotel is full as it’s half term… the TUI representative is telling people that if they turn up that means your holiday’s valid so you might not get a refund.

‘The holiday itself was 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 accommodation and look after us, and pay for the extra cost, or it could work out another three or four grand.’

TUI said: ‘We would like to apologise to some of our customers who have experienced flight delays in recent days.

‘The May half-term holidays are always an incredibly busy period with many customers looking 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’s the first peak period in more than two years that hasn’t been impacted by border closures and mass testing requirements. Our priority is always to take customers on holiday safely.’    

Five-year-old’s devastation as TUI cancel her FIRST EVER overseas trip 

A mother said her five-year-old daughter didn’t want to go on holiday ‘ever again’ after the family went through a ‘shocking’ experience with TUI.

Kim McManus, 40, from Widnes, was due to fly out to Turkey on Friday for her daughter’s first ever holiday abroad when they heard their flight had been overbooked.

Less than an hour later, the mother of one received a text from TUI announcing that their whole package holiday had also been cancelled.

Autumn ‘broke down sobbing’ once she heard the news.

Her Disney bag packed, Autumn, five, was beaming, left, at Manchester airport ready for her first foreign holiday. But her smiles turned to tears, right, after the trip to Turkey with her mum was cancelled after their flight was axed. 

Ms McManus said: ‘We had to get there early because of traffic issues, and then the flight was delayed by about five hours.

‘We were all queuing up to get on the plane when they came around to everybody and said that the flight had been overbooked by 13 people.

‘Six people hadn’t shown up so they were now seven people too many. They were asking people to volunteer to not fly but without the guarantee of another flight at all in the next week.

‘Nobody was going to take that so we waited for another hour and then they came over the tannoy and said that the cabin crew have now gone over their allotted hours and therefore the flight would now be cancelled.

‘I was so shocked. It’s my first holiday in seven years and it’s my little girl’s first holiday ever. She just broke down sobbing, saying ”please mummy please you said there was only one more sleep”. She was just absolutely devastated.’

Tui said: ‘We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to our customers on flight TOM856 from Manchester to Antalya, on Friday 27th May who were delayed due to a combination of factors causing significant operational disruption.

‘Unfortunately, we felt the impact to customers’ holiday was too great and took the difficult decision to cancel the flight. We contacted affected customers as soon as we became aware of the change and all customers will receive a full refund within 14 days.

‘We understand how disappointing and frustrating this is and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.’ 

‘Hell on wheels’ check-in at Gatwick… and POLICE sent to tell passengers of cancellations in Manchester 

Student Isabelle Gray, 27, told the Evening Standard that checking in at Gatwick yesterday was ‘hell on wheels’.

She said: ‘I arrived here just after 5am and queued for almost 2 hours to check my bag in, the queue was about 500 deep and there was one person at the check in desk. Some people next to me were thinking of putting their suitcase in a locker and running to the gate with just hand luggage.’

Airlines and airports have been blamed for the carnage having slashed staff during the pandemic while hoovering up furlough payments and state aid. Now they do not have enough workers to cope – and cannot find people to fill often low-paid vacancies – as the numbers booking foreign holidays over the Platinum Jubilee week and through the summer months hit pre-pandemic levels.

No airport or @TUIUK staff on hand, the police read out a statement on their behalf. From this point it took another 2 hrs to get our bags back as we were left stranded in baggage reclaim with no staff to advise us what was happening 2/3 pic.twitter.com/idn9uG5X49

— Jayesh Patel ☔️ (@smurfyhelp_jay) May 29, 2022

It was police, not TUI staff, who were sent in to tell weary passengers at Manchester Airport that their entire holiday to Greece was cancelled and they had to leave

Meanwhile, Jayesh Patel, whose half term break to Kos had been two years in the planning, said there was anger and tears at Manchester Airport as two policemen arrived to read a statement from TUI, moments after they began receiving texts telling them their flight and package breaks would not go ahead.

He told the BBC yesterday: ‘The airport was understaffed, a lot of the outlets had ran out of food or closed at 6pm. We got called to the gate for the 7pm take off – four hours late. There was no staff.

‘People were very upset – some were going on their honeymoon. And then we all started getting texts that the flight was now cancelled and because it was a package booking the whole holiday was cancelled’.

He added: ‘The worst part that there was no Tui staff to help. And then two police officers arrived and read a statement telling us how we would exit the airport. 

‘Because the airplane hadn’t arrived from anywhere, our flight wasn’t listed at any of the baggage carousels so we didn’t know where to wait – people were visibly upset and children were crying. 

‘We then had to wait another couple of hours and at this point, we’d spent the whole day at the airport and just wanted to leave.’

Meanwhile, the Saunders family were left devastated after their first holiday since the Covid pandemic was cancelled by TUI as they waited to board their flight.

Another family was left devastated after their first holiday since the Covid pandemic was cancelled by TUI as they waited to board their flight. Anna Saunders, pictured with her husband Matthew, and kids Eva and Jack

Passengers told Vueling flight took off ’empty’ because of delays at Gatwick

Passengers booked on a Vueling flight from Gatwick were told the plane departed empty because of delays at the West Sussex airport.

Flight VY6209 was due to take off for the Italian city of Florence at 8.20pm yesterday.

But the Airbus A319 – which can carry up to 144 passengers – left nearly two hours late with no-one on board for the 734-mile flight.

Nisha Gupta, 32, from Windsor, Berkshire, was booked on the flight with her husband Ash.

She said that they were forced to queue for more than four hours to check in luggage, but when they arrived at the departure gate they were informed no passengers could board the plane due to a staff shortage.

She said: ‘Eventually we were told by staff that the pilots made a decision to fly the plane back empty without a single passenger onboard due to Florence airspace closing.

‘The environmental impact of this is insane and a decision was clearly made to prioritise cost implications over customer experience and environmental impact.

‘Throughout this entire experience, there was a maximum of three staff members dealing with all Vueling flights that day.

‘We got to the airport at 3pm and did not leave until 2am after having to wait around to give details to the one staff member dealing with all cancelled flights, taking details and trying to book people into hotels.

‘No food or drinks were provided at all. Neither were any meal vouchers as per customer rights in the instance of a delay.’

The airline’s passengers at Gatwick continued to face severe difficulties.

One person posted a photograph showing a large crowd of people waiting to check-in, with the caption: ‘Vueling you need to get a grip of this absolute chaos at Gatwick.

‘One member of staff to handle this many people is completely unacceptable. Do you understand the impact this has on people?’

The airline was approached for a comment. 

Family who released an image of their ‘exhausted’ six-year-old in tears while stuck in Cyprus due to two cancelled flights have finally made it home – after more than 50 hours of delays

A family who released an image of their ‘exhausted’ six-year-old in tears while stuck in Cyprus due to two cancelled flights have finally made it home – after more than 50 hours of delays.

Glenda, 40, and Stephen Powell, 46, were due to travel back to Bristol Airport from Paphos, Cyprus, with their two young children over the weekend but TUI cancelled their flights twice.

The couple from Bristol claimed they had been left stranded abroad since Saturday – and revealed they only just returned home this morning at 4am.

The pair have described the situation as an ‘absolute joke’ – and their story hit the headlines after Mrs Powell posted images of their ‘exhausted’ six-year-old daughter in tears.

Mrs Powell said: ‘It’s pure relief to be back home.

‘The stress of going back and forwards to the airport, packing, unpacking, washing some clothes in hotel room sinks because you’ve ran out.

‘When you have pets at home and work commitments you don’t want a couple of extra days of holiday, you want to get home.

‘You book a weeks holiday for a reason, if I’d wanted to stay longer I would have booked 10 days.

‘I am exhausted.’

Mrs Powell took to social media on the night of the families second flight cancellation on May 29 – where she shared an image of her ‘exhausted’ six-year-old daughter, Freya, crying because she is unable to return to the UK

The Powell’s original flight back to Bristol airport at 6.25pm GMT was cancelled on Saturday, as was their subsequent flight home at 1:20am yesterday.

The family were forced to stay in a hotel after learning about their flight cancellations.

But on the third attempt, the family were able to finally get on a plane back to the UK at 8.35pm last night.

The family had fly to Manchester Airport and had to get a long coach back to Bristol – adding another four hours onto their journey.

TUI told Mrs Powell the reason for the delay was ‘due to operational disruption in the TUI fleet’ and the plane ‘operated at the earliest opportunity’.

Mrs Powell said: ‘The cabin crew were very apologetic and we got through passport control and baggage reclaim fairly quickly at Manchester and into our coach.

‘There was anxiety around the group about whether the coaches would turn up as, we had all read stories of passengers stranded at different airports having to pay for taxis!

‘So when they did it was pure relief.’

The couple, who both serve as police officers, said they were lucky to have missed problems at Bristol Airport when they flew out on May 21 – but upon returning home this morning (31 May) Mrs Powell described the scenes as chaotic.

She added: ‘We got into Bristol Airport at about 3.30am to carnage – I couldn’t believe how busy it was at that time of the morning!

‘So we grabbed an Uber and got out of there.’

After demanding the ‘powers that be to step up’, Mrs Powell and her family admitted they were not ‘convinced of returning to the UK last night until the landing gear went up and we were in the air’.

Mrs Powell took to social media on the night of the families second flight cancellation on May 29 – where she shared an image of her ‘exhausted’ six-year-old daughter, Freya, crying because she is unable to return to the UK.

She wrote: ‘2nd attempt to get home…So our Manchester flight is cancelled…. Literally got off the coach at the airport to be turned straight back round to go back to the same hotel/room.

‘Absolute joke… Tui this is the face of a six-year-old who is exhausted from travelling to an airport at 10pm and just wants to go home we were supposed to get on our flight 24 hours ago.’

Mrs Powell added: ‘After the first cancellation, we were then told by email we would be put on the 1.20 am flight to Manchester on May 30 with a coach transfer to Bristol.

‘Families were checking online themselves for the status of said flight and rumours were going around that it was cancelled.

‘Sure enough, when we arrived at the airport and unloaded our luggage we did not even enter the airport as the information board displayed that our flight was again cancelled.

‘My daughters burst into tears with the anxiety and just wanted to go home.’

Mrs Powell also revealed the family were informed on Sunday by an airport representative that they would be upgraded to all-inclusive at their hotel – but were disappointed after there was ‘no communicated about this at the hotel’.

She said: ‘I feel like TUI told us what we wanted to hear just to keep the peace at the time as emotions were running high.

‘There’s a lot going on in the world which is significantly worse than this but when you save and pay for a service you expect them to follow through.’

Mr Powell was also due to attend a three-day trial at 9am on Monday morning to give evidence at Bristol Crown Court but was forced to cancel.

The mother-of-two added the responses she had received from TUI have been ‘fairly automated responses’ and demanded ‘the powers that be need to step up, put their hands up and apologise properly’.

The family have been offered £200 each towards another TUI holiday, as well as the standard flight cancellation compensation, but Mrs Powell reveals she is ‘not really feeling like booking a holiday with them unless this all calms down’.

Mrs Powell says she has not formally complained yet from being ‘too exhausted’ but she is planning to.

TUI issued a statement apologising to its customers for flight cancellations and claims to have been in contact with passengers to advise of new service departure times.

A spokesperson said: ‘We’d like to apologise to customers travelling on flight TOM6677 from Paphos to Bristol which was unable to depart as planned on Saturday 28 May due to operational issues.

‘All impacted customers were offered welfare vouchers, overnight accommodation and meals while we worked through a new flight plan.

‘We were in regular contact with customers and advised them of their new departure time as soon as we could. Customers are now due to arrive in Manchester this evening and transport back to Bristol Airport will be provided.

‘We’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding during this time.’  

What are your rights if your flight is cancelled? As holidaymakers are hit by airport chaos, we explain what you need to know 

British holidaymakers are facing travel chaos in airports across the UK, due to the half-term travel rush and staff shortages.

Some have been forced to miss their flights due to security hold-ups, while easyJet, Tui, and British Airways axed hundreds of international flights over the weekend.

But what are your options if you find yourself unable to jet off – or suffer delays – due to airport hold-ups or cancellations? 

This is Money explains your consumer rights, who to contact and how much money you can expect to get back if you don’t fly.

Holiday hiccup: In the unfortunate event that your flight is cancelled, your airline provider is required to make every effort to put you on the next available flight

My flight has been cancelled: Who do I talk to?  

If a flight is cancelled on the day that you are travelling, the first thing you should do is get in touch with the airline. 

They should work to get you on a replacement flight, or other alternative modes of transport, to get you to your final destination. 

However, a large number of airlines are instead offering refunds, or travel vouchers for you to book an alternative flight yourself.

You should also get in touch with your travel insurance provider. Events such as cancellations are one of the reasons why it it is a good idea to take out insurance, even if you are not going on a long trip or travelling far from home. 

> Read our guide to everything you need to know about travel insurance 

They will be able to discuss your options in regards to the other elements of your holiday, and begin any necessary claims processes.

Ceri McMillan, travel insurance spokesperson for GoCompare says: ‘If your flight is delayed or cancelled, then your airline is your first port of call. They have a duty to look after and compensate you under the rules set by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

‘If you’re flying from an airport in the EU or with an EU-based airline, then your airline has to help if your flight is cancelled or delayed past a certain amount of time – which means that you won’t have to claim on your travel insurance. 

‘But, if you are traveling outside the EU, then your airline doesn’t have the same duty of care – so it will depend on your airline what compensation you will be entitled to. ‘

Does my airline have to offer me a new flight? 

As a consumer, you are entitled to travel on the original day of departure if there is any commercial way of getting you to your destination.

Sometimes this may not be possible, and thus airlines could offer you an alternative flight for another day and it is up to you if you take it.

The Civil Aviation Authority also says that the cancelling airline must offer a transfer another flight on the same day if it can, regardless of whether this is with the same provider or a different airline. 

Amid the recent travel chaos, some passengers say they have been told they cannot be transferred to another airline – but this is not the case, as you have the right to be booked on the next alternative flight. 

It’s worth noting that airlines can also book you on to a flight from an alternative nearby airport.

For example, if your British Airways flight from Newcastle to Madrid is cancelled and the only other departure that day is an easyJet from Edinburgh, the airline should provide transport to get you to your new airport, likely a National Express coach. 

Options: If there are no alternative flights to your destination, airlines can book you on to other providers’ flights or redirect you to a similar location and provide any necessary transfers

What if the airline won’t arrange an alternative flight? 

In the unlikely event that your airline is unwilling or unable to put you on an alternative flight, you still have a number of options to help you get to your destination.

The first is to contact your insurance provider immediately, and let them know what has happened, as you will most likely need to make a claim through them.

Then, if you are willing and able to pay for your own way to get to your destination, you can claim back any reasonable additional charges from the airline.

Reasonable charges would include the cost of public transfers between different airports if you need to make a change, or the cost of a new plane ticket.

Of course, you are also within your rights to cancel the trip altogether. 

McMillan adds: ‘If your flight is cancelled and you haven’t opted for an alternative flight, then you can get a full refund for all or part of the journey. 

‘The distance of the flight and the amount of notice you were given before the cancellation might also mean that you are entitled to compensation for the cancellation itself.’

The airline offered me a voucher for my flight: Am I entitled to a refund instead? 

Some airlines may offer travellers a voucher for an alternative flight with the same provider, but you should know you are entitled by law to a full refund.

Airlines can often try to hide the refund option when they discuss your options with you after a flight cancellation, but if you know your rights and stand your ground, you will be able to receive a full refund. 

This even includes basic economy tickets, which are usually non-refundable if you cancelled your flight voluntarily.

However, different policies might apply if a flight is delayed – but not cancelled – and the customer therefore chooses not to take it.  

If an airline is stonewalling on a refund and offering a voucher instead, you have a few options.

First, you should get in touch with your airline’s customer service team to request a refund. If they continue to say no, it could be worth hanging up and trying again with a different agent. 

Second, it’s absolutely worth getting in touch with their social media customer service team over Twitter or Facebook to discuss your refund, or emailing them directly.

Large queues at Heathrow Airport have forced some passengers to miss their flights, amid mass staff shortages and hundreds of cancelled flights with easyJet, Tui and British Airways

This should make it easier to escalate your complaint if you have it in writing that the airline provider is unwilling to offer you a refund. 

Once you have made an effort to contact the airline, you should get in touch with your insurance provider to discuss your options, and file a complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority.

If you have an unresolved complaint about an airline, the provider must inform you about an alternative dispute resolution scheme that you can use to help get an outcome.

You also have the right to take an airline to the small claims court if you feel it is unfairly refusing to pay you compensation, but you should seek legal advice first if you decide to take this route.  

Lastly, if you booked your flight with a credit card you can dispute the charge, as most banks will refund you if you paid for something and didn’t receive it.

If you’re not able to be booked onto a flight on the same day, your airline provider must provide you with accommodation and reasonable expenses for food until the next available flight

What if I’m stuck in the airport for hours? 

Under UK law, airlines who have cancelled flights must provide customers with care and assistance, depending on their individual circumstances, while you wait for your next flight.

According to the CAA they must provide: 

A reasonable amount of food and drink (often in the form of vouchers)A means for you to communicate (usually two free phone calls)Accommodation, if you are re-routed the next day (usually a nearby hotel)Transport to alternative airports, or accommodation (including your home)

The airline must provide you with these items until it is able to fly you to your destination, no matter how long the delay lasts or what has caused it.

Remember, if the airline does not offer to cover these costs, you should be able to claim them back at a later time, if the costs are reasonable.

Be sure to keep hold of your receipts, and try to keep your costs as low as possible.  

How to find travel insurance 

The simplest way to look for travel insurance is to use a comparison site.

Results will similar across most comparison sites but some may have special deals, so it could be worth using more than one. 

If you have previous serious medical issues consider a specialist insurer or broker.

This is Money has partnered with Compare the Market to help you find great travel insurance. You can compare prices and cover at the link below.

> Travel insurance: Check policies with Compare the Market

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Note that easyJet says: ‘We will always do our best to provide customers with overnight accommodation. In times of widespread disruption that’s not always possible so we may ask you to find your own accommodation.

‘In this case we ask that you look for accommodation, which is 3 stars or equivalent like Premier Inn, Ibis, Holiday Inn, Hotel Formule 1, Travelodge or Motel-One.

‘If you choose to book more expensive accommodation when equivalent hotels within our suggested range were available, we will be unable to reimburse the full cost of the accommodation.’  

Additionally, its worth knowing that the amount of time you are delayed for can impact what the airline is willing to reimburse you for.

Usually, the airline’s obligation to provide you with ‘a reasonable amount of food and drink’ depends on the length of the flight you were supposed to take with them. 

This typically covers delays or cancellation for flights delayed more than two hours if travelling less than 1,500km, or for more than three hours if travelling between 1,500km-3,500km. 

You could receive up to £520 in compensation if your flight is cancelled within 14 days of your departure date, even if you are booked onto an alternative flight

Passengers should be given a voucher for a certain amount after this time period, but if this is clearly inadequate, for example only offering a drink and a snack for a six-hour delay, you should claim for reasonable additional expenses.

Just note that you won’t be able to claim back costs for alcoholic drinks.

Am I entitled to compensation for my cancelled flight? 

The good news is, you should be entitled to some amount of additional compensation if your flight is cancelled, but how much depends on your situation.

You are instantly entitled to compensation if your flight is cancelled within 14 days of your departure, and your new flight lands at least two hours after your original arrival time. 

How much compensation am I entitled to if my flight is cancelled? If your flight was cancelled less than 7 days before departure Distance Departure and arrival times Compensation Less than 1,500km If your new flight takes off more than one hour before your original flight, and arrives less than two hours after it £110 If your new flight arrives more than two hours after your original flight £220 1,500km to 3,500km If your new flight departs more than one hour before your original flight, and arrives less than three hours after it £175 If your new flight arrives more than three hours after your original flight £350 More than 3,500km If your new flight departs more than one hour before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it £260 If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight £520 If your flight was cancelled between 7 and 14 days before departure Distance Departure and arrival times Compensation Less than 1,500km If your new flight takes off more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives less than two hours after it £110 If your new flight takes off more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives more than two hours after it £220 If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight £220 1,500km to 3,500km If your new flight takes off more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives less than three hours after it £175 If your new flight takes off more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives three to four hours after it £350 If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight £350 More than 3,500km If your new flight departs more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it £260 If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight £520

The most you can hope to get through compensation is £520 per ticket, assuming your flight arrives more than four hours late and you are travelling more than 3,500km.

The least you are likely to be able to claim is £110, assuming your new flight takes off around one hour earlier than your original flight, but that you arrive at your final destination two hours late.

You can make a claim from the airline to get compensation and you may be able to claim from your travel insurance –  but be sure to check if your insurance policy covers cancellations first.

To make a claim, you should contact the airline that was operating your flight, even if you booked through another provider or agent and have your booking reference details to hand.

When you write your claim, be sure to include copies (not originals) of your tickets and any receipts to recuperate your costs, as well as any correspondence with the airline on your situation.

What if I don’t go on holiday due to a cancelled flight?

Unfortunately, this is where things can get a little complicated.

If you booked an ATOL-protected package holiday and you are no longer able to go due to the cancelled flights, then you are entitled to a full refund, and should get in touch with your holiday provider.

However, if you booked your accommodation and flights separately, then you could be reliant on your travel insurance to help recoup the costs.

As part of your travel insurance, flight cancellations outside of your control should come as standard. 

But you will need to ensure this also extends to the remaining portion of your trip – such as hotels and return flights you won’t be using.

If your specific policy does not cover this, then you are unlikely to receive a refund.

McMillan says: ‘Some travel insurance policies may cover delays, but that cover might depend on what your airline does, the length of time of the delays and the policy that you have taken out. 

‘For instance, some policies may cover delays of up to 12 hours while others would only cover you if you have been delayed for 24 hours or more.

‘Some insurers may cover for flight cancellations but may state that you can only claim if your cancelled flight was not rearranged within 24 hours and may require evidence from the airline that they are not providing a refund.

If you are no longer able to go on holiday because of your cancelled flights, you might be able get a refund for your other costs through your travel insurance, depending on your policy

Could you get an air passenger duty refund? 

Its also worth noting that you have a right to a refund on the Air Passenger Duty costs for your flight, if you don’t take it and don’t accept a replacement. 

Also known as airport departure tax, it is a fee included in your ticket price which covers the levy airlines pay the Government for passenger leaving the country.

There are different price bands but for commercial flights passengers can be charged up to £185 each, and the airline holds this cost until the passenger actually takes the flight, at which point it’s paid to the Government. 

If you don’t fly, the airline doesn’t have to pay it, which means if you don’t board the plane, you should get this part of the ticket refunded – no matter how late you are delayed.

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‘Travel insurance policies and the levels of cover they provide vary significantly, which is why it’s so important for you to check the details of your policy before you buy to ensure that you know what you are covered for before you travel.’

In circumstances like this, its also worth checking with your hotel, as you may have booked a flexible room, which could mean you are able to cancel your accommodation and get a full refund.

According to new research by GoCompare, around 40 per cent of holidaymakers are not planning on buying travel insurance prior to their holidays this year, with those aged between 55-64 the least likely to buy a travel insurance policy.

But, if you suddenly find yourself delayed or unable to jet off on holiday, you may find yourself feeling a little regretful. 

McMillan added: ‘This is a really worrying number of people who could potentially go on holiday this summer without the right cover in place.

‘If people are thinking they’re saving money by going away without the right level of insurance, this is most definitely a false economy. 

‘If the worst should happen and you need medical care whilst away, travel insurance will cover your costs. Without it, your bill could run into thousands.

‘And it’s not just medical costs. Travel insurance also covers for eventualities such as cancellations, disruptions, if your holiday is unexpectedly cut short, and if anything happens to your luggage or personal belongings.’

McMillan explained: ‘When it comes to travel insurance, most policies will offer some cover for delayed outbound or inbound journeys, however the requirements for the length of the delay and what compensation is available may differ. 

‘That’s why it’s important that you read your policy, so you know what you’re covered for.

‘We all buy travel insurance in the hope that we’ll never have to use it, but going away without it just doesn’t make sense – unless you have enough money in savings to cover you if anything happens and you need to be flown back to the UK.’

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